Common Misconceptions About Atrial Fibrillation

by Allison Bush Editor

An estimated 2.5 million Americans suffer from irregular heartbeats, also known as atrial fibrillation. However, this condition is often misunderstood. Take a minute to raise your awareness of this important cardiovascular condition that is on the rise.

"If I can't feel it, I don't have it"

Manish Assar, MD, a cardiac electrophysiologist on the medical staff at Baylor Jack and Jane Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital, says the above statement one of the most frequent misconceptions he hears patients saying, and it's just not true.

Some people may not exhibit physical symptoms for quite some time; therefore, the diagnosis of atrial fibrillation is made through an EKG.

Source: Science Daily

"Atrial fibrillation only affects the elderly"

Atrial fibrillation (AF) can strike at any age, but it's most prevalent in the elderly. Although AF is often considered an electrical problem that is linked to underlying cardiac disease, that is not always the case. Approximately 30% to 45% of cases of paroxysmal AF and 20% to 25% of cases of persistent AF occur in younger patients who have no heart defects or disease.

Source: Science Daily

"Atrial fibrillation only affects the heart"

Because atrial fibrillation is a condition in the heart, the threat to the brain is often overlooked. Due to atrial fibrillation, blood clots can form in the heart, break off and travel to the brain, blocking major vessels, resulting in a stroke.

Source: Science Daily

"There is a cure for atrial fibrillation"

For some people, treatment can cure AF and return their heartbeat to a normal rhythm. For people who have permanent AF, treatment can control symptoms and prevent complications. Treatment consists primarily of different kinds of medicines or nonsurgical procedures.


"Life is over with an atrial fibrillation diagnosis"

This is far from true. The prognosis is positive for those with atrial fibrillation. If you continue with good medical care, you can live a normal, active life and do the things you enjoy.

Source: Dr. Douglas Severance

Allison Bush
Meet Our Writer
Allison Bush

Allison Bush is a former HealthCentral editor who covered a wide range of health topics.