Atrial Fibrillation

Thoracic Aortic Disease Specialists:
Stephen J. Ackerman, MD
Peter Gallagher, MD
James Wudel, MD

What is Atrial Fibrillation?

The upper chambers of the heart (atria) send out signals to the heart’s lower chambers (ventricles) and this is how the heart forms a normal beat. This normal beat allows blood to pump sufficiently throughout your body and is a crucial part of normal circulation.

Sometimes the atria sends out too many signals or “erratic” signals resulting in the atria not working in conjunction or rhythm with the ventricles. Atrial Fibrillation (AF) prevents the top and the bottom parts of the heart from working together. The circulation of blood throughout your body may be reduced as much as 20-30 percent. This is why you may feel tired or weak.

Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is widely known as the most common sustained cardiac arrhythmia. AF affects an estimated 2.5 million patients in the U.S. with approximately 300,000 new cases diagnosed annually. It’s predicted that 5.6 million patients will be diagnosed with AF by the year 2050. The risk of stroke in patients with AF is estimated at 7 times greater than patients without AF. Atrial Fibrillation is second only to heart failure in terms of cardiac related hospitalizations.