Silent Afib – What Does It Mean and Why It Matters

Patient and electrophysiologist review diagnostic cardiology test results for silent Afib

When you think about atrial fibrillation or Afib, your mind probably conjures up pounding feelings in the chest, a sense of fluttering, uneasiness, and panic, wondering if you may have a severe heart concern or even a heart attack—however, not all cases of Afib present with these classic symptoms. When Afib is asymptomatic, it is known as silent Afib. It may seem odd to think that a fast or irregular heartbeat would not cause any symptoms at all, but it’s certainly possible and happens more often than you think.

How Silent Afib Is Often Found

Once you reach a certain age, you begin regular EKGs at your primary care physician’s office as part of your routine annual physical. It is typically this test that finds silent Afib. At first, your doctor may ask if you are feeling any symptoms. They may verify the EKG reading with yet another test. Ultimately, if they confirm an irregular heartbeat, they will refer you to a cardiologist or an electrophysiologist like Dr. Tordini.

Why Does Silent Afib Matter?

You may have read that the discomfort associated with the classic symptoms of Afib is only part of the reason for treating the condition. Instead, the five times increased risk of stroke, the increased risk of heart attack, and the greater likelihood of long-term heart failure concerns us. Silent Afib is no different. The heart is pumping erratically, and blood can pool in areas of the heart, including the left atrial appendage or LAA. This is what causes most of the stroke risk.

The Treatment Process From Here

Treating Afib at its earliest signs is essential. The front-line treatment for most patients is medication, including antiarrhythmics and anti-coagulants. However, many patients do not want to take medication or have significant side effects. They may opt for a cardiac catheter ablation that uses either targeted heat or targeted cold to eliminate the errant electrical signals of the heart.

Of course, the most critical next step is to consult with a qualified electrophysiologist such as Dr. Tordini. We encourage you to contact our office if you believe you have Afib or have received an arrhythmia diagnosis.

Dr. Tordini is a part of Florida Medical Clinic in Tampa

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