You've seen the commercials, but what is A-fib?

Posted at 4:22 PM, Dec 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-15 18:22:00-05

You’ve probably heard of a-fib, or atrial fibrillation, by now. It’s all over TV commercials these days with celebrity spokespeople.

In today’s Rally for Red, we’re explaining just what it is.

“It is when the top chambers of the heart beat sort of irregularly. It turns out that is the most common form of irregular heart rate that most people will have,” said Dr. Eric Yang with Mayo Clinic.

Getting older, high blood pressure and being overweight can contribute to your chance. A-fib is not life threatening, but it does increase your risk of having a stroke.

“It’s basically, essentially, churning your blood, so just like if you had milk, it’s churning it, and in doing so it’s not effectively pumping it. So blood clots can form, and these blood clots can break off, and if they go to your head, you can have a stroke,” Yang said.

Yang said many people don’t know they have it. For years, treatment only came in two options: Aspirin and Warfarin.

“The pharmaceutical companies have realized it’s an area for development,” said Yang. “There are several new blood thinners that are out there that are much easier to use than Warfarin.”

Yang said that’s why we’re seeing those commercials.

“It’s making patients aware of what atrial fibrillation is, and it’s offered a lot of patients who were unwilling to take thinners in the past are more willing to use blood thinners because they’re easier to use,” he said.

If you think you have a-fib, contact your doctor immediately.