Doctors residents x-ray 311.
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
The Israel Cardiology Society has called on those who suffer from atrial
fibrillation to avoid suffering a potentially fatal or disabling ischemic
The organization of heart specialists announced at a Monday press
conference it was launching a major public information campaign to prevent such
strokes due to the condition.
Known to doctors as “afib,” it refers to an
irregular, rapid heartbeat, or a quivering of the upper chambers of the heart
called the atria. The condition is not due to atherosclerosis (clogged coronary
arteries) but a malfunction in the heart’s electrical system, which regulates
The symptoms vary, with some who have afib describing it
as their heart “skipping a beat,” followed by a thud and a speeding up of the
heart. Others describe it as an erratic heartbeat, strong heart palpitations or
a rapid heart rate. Some feel pressure in the throat and chest that
mimics a heart attack. It may make patients dizzy, breathless, fatigued, faint,
lightheaded or anxious. Sometimes, it is not a one-time occurrence but can
continue for hours, weeks or even years.
Many people who feel one of the
symptoms explain it away, saying it “just happened and passed,” but
cardiologists insist it can potentially kill. Since the blood doesn’t properly
move from the atria into the ventricles and then on to the rest of the body, it
can starve the body of oxygen-rich blood, leaving victims feeling weak, tired or
even incapacitated. But if blood collects in the atria and creates blood clots
that move through the circulation, it can cause a stroke and permanent
disability or death. It can also overwork the heart, leading to long-term
Obesity and stress raise the risk, while as the population
ages, the prevalence of afib is expected to rise.
Prof. Chaim Lotan,
president of the society and chief of cardiology at Hadassah University Medical
Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem, said his group was morally and professionally
bound to minimize the number of such cases. Speaking alongside representatives
of the Internal Medicine and Neurology Societies, he said this could be
accomplished by educating the public, reducing their risk factors and having
them treated in time.
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People who have had afib are up to five times more
at risk than others to have a stroke. About 90,000 Israelis suffer from the
heart condition. A recent survey, said Lotan, showed less than half of all
people with afib are aware of their higher risk of an ischemic stroke. In
addition, many do not get proper prophylactic treatment – anti-thrombotic
therapy (blood thinners). The doctors said a variety of prescription
drugs are available in the basket that if taken could prevent strokes in afib
Stroke is the main cause of disability among adults and the
third-most common cause of death in the Western world, including Israel. About
15,000 strokes occur here and 3,000 of the victims die of it each
Dr. Dov Gavish, a member of the internal medicine society and head
of internal medicine A at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon said afib
complications such as stroke put a huge burden on hospitals.
many patients who have afib and say they feel fine and are not aware of the need
to prevent strokes with medication,” he said.
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