Martha Jefferson Monday: What is A-Fib? - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Martha Jefferson Monday: What is A-Fib?

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A racing heart, shortness of breath, dizziness or palpitations. These are all symptoms of atrial fibrillation, or A-Fib. 

"A-Fib is a an abnormal rhythm which drives the heart as a very rapid rate," said Dr. John Zakaib, a cardiac electrophysiologist at Martha Jefferson Hospital. 

You can think of A-Fib as a racing, irregular heart beat. 

"When a patient experiences A-Fib, there is a sudden onset of abnormal electrical activity emanating from the left atrium, driving the upper chambers of the heart at approximately 450 cycles per minute, which is so fast that the upper chambers are just shaking. The lower chambers respond to that as fast as they can, but that often results in a heart rate of approximately 150-180 beats per minute," said Zakaib. 

A-Fib affects nearly 2.2 million people in the country, and that number is expected to double over the next 20 years. 

The good news is that there are a variety of treatment options available to fit each patient's need. 

"Management of symptoms is most commonly with medications, but sometimes with catheter ablation therapy, which is an invasive therapy in which the arrhythmia can be corrected," said Zakaib. 

For more information on atrial fibrillation or Dr. Zakaib, call Health Connection at Martha Jefferson Hospital at (434) 654-7009.

To submit a question you'd like answered on NBC29, email healthquestions@nbc29.com

Do you have health questions? Starting June 4, get the answers every Monday morning from the experts at Martha Jefferson Hospital in our new feature: Martha Jefferson Monday.

Jenn Downs will meet with the experts of Martha Jefferson Hospital and ask them your questions. You’ll see and hear the answers during NBC29 News at Sunrise every Monday morning.

Submit your questions now! Just click this link and write your question in the email. Then tune in every Monday morning during NBC29 News at Sunrise for Martha Jefferson Monday brought to you by NBC29 and Martha Jefferson Hospital.

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