The Link between Atrial Fibrillation and Family History

Is atrial fibrillation genetic? It can be.

Atrial fibrillation, also known as AFib, can happen to anyone. Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart irregularity, or cardiac arrhythmia. More than 2.5 million Americans have atrial fibrillation.

Having relatives with AFib can increase your chances of being diagnosed. Atrial fibrillation that is inherited is called familial atrial fibrillation.

Recent studies suggest that up to 30 percent of people living with AFib have a relative with the condition.

Reducing Your Risk of Atrial Fibrillation

Here’s good news: following a heart-healthy lifestyle can help you avoid or improve atrial fibrillation (AFib).

Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heartbeat, a rapid heartbeat or a quivering of the upper chambers of the heart, called the atria. AFib is the most common heart irregularity, or cardiac arrhythmia. Untreated AFib can lead to lead to stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications.

The risk factors for AFib include existing heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and heavy drinking.

The Importance of Getting a Heart Scan

According to the American College of Cardiology, having a coronary calcium scan performed is one way to estimate you risk of developing heart disease or suffering a heart attack or stroke. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 790,000 Americans have a heart attack every year.

The CDC also estimates that about half of all Americans (47%) have at least one of the following: high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or are a smoker, which are the three key risk factors for developing heart disease.

Aerobic exercises to try this summer

Summer is the perfect time to take your fitness routines outdoors, including your aerobic activities. Also known as cardio, aerobic exercise is a form of cardiovascular conditioning meaning “with oxygen.” Aerobic exercise increases your breathing and heart rate, and helps to keep your heart, lungs and circulatory system healthy. Regular aerobic exercises can prevent conditions like obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and poor cholesterol levels, which can lead to heart attack and stroke.

How pregnancy can affect your heart health

Pregnancy puts an extra strain on the heart, just as it does other parts of the body. Carrying a child requires the heart to work harder than normal as it supplies blood to the uterus. The following changes to the heart and blood vessels during pregnancy are common:

Increase in blood volume

The amount of blood in the body rises as much as 50 percent and remains high until baby is born.

Increase in heart rate

It is normal for the heart rate to increase about 25 percent faster than usual during pregnancy.

Do I need a Heart Scan?

Aging is a natural process for all of us that can bring many health and physical changes. As we age, it’s important to be mindful of what screenings are out there, especially for our hearts. Getting screened for heart disease is just as important as other preventative health screenings, like breast or colon.

Women & Heart Disease

Heart disease is not just a “man’s disease,” right? Cardiovascular disease affects millions of people each year, including women. Every minute in the United States, someone's wife, mother, daughter or sister dies from heart disease, stroke or another form of cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease continues to be a woman’s greatest health threat.

Is this something new?

Preventing Heart Attack with Aspirin

Is aspirin therapy for everyone? Patients at high risk for heart disease can benefit from taking a low-dose aspirin tablet. The American Heart Association recommends people at high risk of heart attack should take a daily low-dose of aspirin (if told to by their healthcare provider) and that heart attack survivors regularly take low-dose aspirin.

Top Heart Health Questions: Lovelace Provider Tells All

There is no such thing as a wrong question to ask when it comes to your heart health, and every ounce of information can help you control your risk factors for cardiovascular disease and to help you live your healthiest life. Lovelace had the opportunity to sit down with Brendan J. Cavanaugh, MD, FACC and pick his brain about some heart-heavy questions.

Taking control of your heart health

Take care of your heart by taking matters into your own hands. You have the power to keep your heart health in check outside of the doctor’s office. Below are several ways you can be proactive in maintaining a healthy heart.

Do your research

Does heart disease run in your family? Has a member of your family suffered from a heart attack? Your family history plays a major role in your risk factors for heart disease and stroke. These are questions you should be asking and reviewing with your health care provider as soon as possible.