As many of you know, I am a nurse and as such enjoy taking any opportunity to educate people on a variety of health issues. I’m certainly not claiming to be an expert on these conditions, but often times I find people will ask me, “what should I do about this”, or maybe, “can you explain this to me”?
I think what happens is, no matter who you are and what your background, when a doctor says you have a specific medical condition, it’s often overwhelming and a lot to take in. So, when asked, I will explain what I know about the condition and then suggest some ways for them to get additional information.
I recently had a relative ask me about Atrial Fibrillation (also known as “AFib”). I explained what I knew and then pointed her in the right direction for more details, including the possibilities of a repeat visit to her physician to have specific questions answered.
It made me realize there are other people out there with this condition…so why not write up a little post.
What you need to know or consider when you are newly diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation.
The basics: Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) is a condition that causes the heart to beat irregularly. It is the most common type of irregular heartbeat and can lead to severe and debilitating strokes. In Canada, stroke is the third leading cause of death, with up to 15 percent of all strokes being caused by AFib. Additionally, there are approximately 350,000 Canadians currently living with AFib and having AFib can put you at a three to five times greater risk of having a stroke.
It’s important to remember people often feel a high level of tension once they are newly diagnosed with AFib. As a result, they often don’t know what questions to ask their physician, so here’s a summary of some things to keep in mind:
- Do I need to be placed on a blood thinner to protect myself from stroke?
- What are the differences between the medication choices?
- What happens if I need to stop my blood from being thinned? For example, if I was injured or needed urgent medical attention.
You can help reduce your risk of stroke by learning about what treatment options provide the best protection:
- There are medications, called anticoagulants (or blood thinners), available today that have been proven to help reduce the risk of stroke for AFib patients by preventing clots from forming.
- It’s important to remember to speak with your health care professional about any possible side effects from the treatment options available.
- After the age of 55, your risk of stroke doubles every 10 years, so it’s important for Canadians to know their risk and learn about getting the best protection from stroke.
- Anticoagulants often play an important role in the long-term medical treatment for most patients with AFib over the age of 65.
For patients who are already on a blood thinner, there are questions you should ask your physician to ensure you are on the right medication:
- Is the blood thinner I’m on the most appropriate for me to protect me from stroke?
- What kind of situations would require the use of a treatment that would reverse the effects of my blood thinner?
- Are there treatments available to temporarily reverse the effects of my blood thinner?
Even if you don’t have AFib, if a family member does, helping them may feel difficult at times. Remember, if you are helping to care for someone with AFib, taking care of yourself is also a priority. The responsibility for another person’s well-being can feel like a heavy weight to bear. Everyone reacts differently of course, but it can also feel as if you are disconnected from your emotions. Being able to share your feelings and worries with others can make all the difference. It’s very helpful to stay connected with your support network, as it will remind you there is another side to you, beyond the one who is providing care and attention. There’s nothing selfish about this as it replenishes the energy you need to be supportive on a daily basis.
If you have AFib, there are ways to help reduce your risk of stroke. Speak with your doctor to learn more about which treatment options offer the best protection to reduce your risk of stroke. Go to www.red-fish.ca to learn more.
Disclosure – This is a sponsored post. All opinions are honest and my own.