Atrial Fibrillation (A-fib) is an irregular and often very rapid heart rhythm that can lead to blood clots in the heart. The cause of afib in elderly people is a problem with the heart’s structure. Luckily, treating afib in elderly patients is possible, and there are many different types of treatments.
What Causes Afib in the Elderly?
In general, atrial fibrillation is caused by problems with the heart’s structure. These problems can be caused by:
Afib is not caused by age, but age and “wear and tear” on the heart can become a contributing factor. Some patients diagnosed with afib have no known heart damages or heart diseases.
Congestive heart failure and afib in the elderly can sometimes go hand in hand. Though it is often unclear which disease caused the other, they often present in the same patient, especially in the elderly. Even by itself, Afib is common in elderly patients.
Afib Symptoms in Elderly
Some patients do not even notice their symptoms of afib and find out they have it only when their doctor hears it during a routine visit. Some symptoms of afib you may experience include:
Afib symptoms in elderly women vary slightly from those in men. Women are more likely to experience atypical (less common) symptoms like weakness and fatigue. They may also have longer afib episodes, and if they have a stroke associated with afib, it tends to be more severe.
Treatment of Afib in the Elderly
The treatment of atrial fibrillation in elderly patients varies based on the severity of the case along with factors like other medical conditions. The goal of the treatment is to control the heart rate and prevent blood clots which can lead to stroke. Some of the ways to treat afib in the elderly include:
Medications like beta blockers to slow the heart rate and blood thinners to reduce the risk of stroke.
Cardioversion therapy, a type of therapy in which the heart rhythm is reset. This can be done using drugs or electrical shock.
Cardiac ablation uses extreme heat or extreme cold to create scars in the heart that block abnormal electrical signals and restore a normal heartbeat. This procedure is typically done using a catheter.
It is a bit tricky to explain how serious afib is for the elderly. While any heart condition is serious, you can also have atrial fibrillation without even realizing it. Your doctor may discover it at a routine physical. With precautions and monitoring by a doctor, you can live a long and healthy life with the condition.