Kakaba-kaba ka ba? Na tila wala namang dahilan ay nakararanas ka ng palpitations?

Do you experience sudden irregular heartbeat or random episodes of a flip-flopping heart that abruptly slows down? 

According to heart health experts, palpitations can be triggered by stress, exercise, medication, or rarely, a medical condition. They added that although heart palpitations can be worrisome, they’re usually harmless.

Pero kapag palagi ka kinakabahan na may kasama pang hingal at mabilis na pagtibok ng puso, mainam na ikaw ay kumunsulta sa iyong doctor o sa isang cardiologist.

This is the advice of heart experts from the Philippine Heart Rhythm Society (PHRS), a medical society of 46 cardiologists who subspecialized to treat patients with heart rhythm disorders including Atrial Fibrillation.  

The group held the “Atrial Fibrillation Public Awareness” Press Conference on September 16, one of the highlights of the PHRS 9th Convention themed: “Cardiac Electrophysiology Reborn”. 

Rapid heartbeat that comes and goes and becomes a continuous cycle could be a case of   Atrial Fibrillation (AF or AFib).

AFib means irregular heartbeat.  It is a common heart rhythm problem or arrhythmia but don’t be misled by it’s being a “common” abnormality per se because it can raise your chances for problems like heart failure (HF) and stroke. 

Better yet, have a pulse check. Do yourself a favor. And if you know someone with the same symptoms, prod him/her to seek professional help.

“AFib is a heart rhythm disorder or abnormality that usually presents as palpitations/ shortness of breath, nausea, easy fatigability, or sometimes simply as an abnormal ECG or finding of irregular pulses during checkups,” according to Dr. Erdie Fadreguilan, PHRS president.

He added that “worldwide, AFib is said to be present in up to 4 percent of adults, increasing in prevalence to up to 20 percent in those 70 and older individuals.”

Screening is highly recommended among those 75 year-olds or regardless of age, those with heart diseases/risk factors: such as HF, diabetes, previous stroke, and diseases of the blood vessels including coronary artery disease (heart artery blockage). Checkup can start with a simple checking of pulses and is later confirmed by ECG (electrocardiogram), Fadreguilan said.

Dr. Francis Marcellus Ramirez, PHRS vice president pointed out, “But AFib patients are getting younger. Lately, the typical age of a person with AFib is in the late 50s and early 60s. Teens and 20-somethings who have it, too, were diagnosed to have other health conditions, comorbidities, and found to have vices.”

The doctors recommended a simple self-assessment by checking your pulse. “Place your index and middle fingers gently on the inside of your wrist, just below the base of your thumb. You’ll feel the blood pulsing beneath your fingers. Then, with a watch or clock featuring a second hand, either count the beats for a full minute or tally them for 15 seconds and multiply by four.”

A typical heart rate ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute.

“Once you are diagnosed to have AFib you need treatment to prevent stroke and heart failure (HF).  A procedure called catheter ablation which is done in a number of hospitals in the country can improve HF in patients with AF,”  according to Dr. Luigi  Pierre Segundo, PHA director and press conference moderator.

The PHRS doctors also give pieces of advice on avoiding risk factors.  Adults, young adults, and teens should avoid the following which are AFib stimulants:

·        Drugs, smoking, too much alcohol and caffeine.

·        Stress 

The combination of school, and social dynamics can be stressful even for young people. An overwhelming dose of stress (both mental and physical) can jumpstart electrical signals.

·        A lag or deficiency in magnesium, calcium, or potassium; water dehydration

A good balance of minerals/vitamins; water and calories helps the body to function well. 

·        Poor oral/dental health.

A link between periodontal health and AFib has been established.  Regular dental prophylaxis/scaling lessens AFib risks and foil infection.

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