It was nearly five years ago when well-known comedian, game show host and actor Howie Mandel learned that he suffered from the heart condition known as atrial fibrillation. It is an irregular beat of the heart and it is associated with an increased stroke risk. He is now going around, speaking with groups and attempting to raise knowledge about atrial fibrillation, or afib as it is more commonly known.
He was asked why he wanted to talk about his personal battle with afib. He said that he decided to become an advocate for afib sufferers because he is one of over 5.8 million Americans who have afib which is not caused by having any sort of heart valve problem. He stated he had no clue he even had it. He only discovered he did when he went for a regular doctor’s check-up. The physician listened to his heartbeat and discovered the irregular rhythm. He did not have any symptoms and did not have any clue this might make him five times more likely to have a stroke than someone who did not have afib.
Medical personnel have known for many years that atrial fibrillation increases the risk for having a stroke, but now researchers have discovered that it also raises the chance of a heart attack. In fact, for females and African Americans, it doubles the threat.
Close to 6 million people in the United States have afib and that number is predicted to rise even more in the next few decades, stated Elsayed Z. Soliman, M.D., who is the director of the Epidemiological Cardiology Research Center at Wake Forest. Patients with atrial fibrillation have almost five times the stroke chance and they end up doubling their mortality risk when equaled to individuals who do not have afib. They need to watch themselves closely.
The trouble is that someone with atrial fibrillation may have no symptoms at all, just as it was with Mandel. If there are signs, they might include heart palpitations, dizziness, fluttering or pounding sensations in chest or feelings of being light-headed.
When the comedian was first told, he blew the diagnosis off. After he had better educated himself, and realized he could possibly suffer a stroke, he decided to get medical treatment. During afib, heart contractions are irregular and blood can puddle inside the heart muscle where it might end up clotting. A stroke can result from this clot moving up to the brain and having it restrict the required flow of blood.
Mandel worries that numerous individuals are unaware of afib’s true risks, so he hopes to help others get educated about atrial fibrillation in a way he never was before his diagnosis.
Now he places an emphasis on trying to stay healthy to reduce his stroke risk. He explained that he does not know what the triggers actually are but he is always seeing his physician and doing what it takes to keep himself healthy. Atrial fibrillation is something that can be managed. Everyone who has it is a different person and will have to deal with it in various ways. They will need to do whatever it is they have to in order to get better. But people have to know that it exists whether they have it or not.
The fact of the matter is that education is the key to fighting any problem. Heart topics are the leading source of problems in the United States and afib is one extremely common heart matter.
By Kimberly Ruble
The Wall Street Journal