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July 1, 2014     Cape Gazette
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July 1, 2014

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cape Qazette HEALTH & FITNESS TUESDAY, JULY ]- THURSDAY, JULY 3, 2014 19 AF can be triggered by overindulgence Q. Whenever I drink a little too much wine, I find that I wake up at night and my heart seems to race for a while. Can wine do that? he short answer is yes. But, first, it sounds like you haven't told a doctor about this. And you should - im- mediately. What you're describ- ing could be atrial fibrillation. The risk of atrial fibrillation increases with age, particularly after age 60. Atrial fibrillation - also called AF or AFib - is the most com- mon form of irregular heartbeat. It is an abnormal heart rhythm originating in the atria, the up- per chambers of the heart. The rate of impulses through the atria can range from 300 to 600 beats per minute. Because the atria are beating rapidly and irregularly, blood does not flow through them as quickly. This makes the blood more likely to clot. if a clot is pumped out of the heart, it can travel to the brain, causing a stroke. People with atrial fibril- lation are five to seven times more likely to have a stroke than the general population. Infrequent and brief episodes of atrial fibrillation can be triggered by overindulgence in alcohol, caffeine and food. Doc- tors sometimes call AF "holiday heart." However, some of the most common causes of AF are high blood pressure, and a variety of heart problems such as coronary artery disease, chronic lung disease and pulmonary embolism, which is a condition that occurs when an artery in your lung becomes blocked. In at least 10 percent of AF cases, no underlying heart disease is found. In these cases, AF may be related to alcohol or excessive caffeine use, stress, certain drugs, electrolyte or metabolic imbalances, or severe infections. In some cases, no cause can be found. Among the commonly used tools to diagnose atrial fibrilla- tion are the electrocardiogram (ECG); a Holter monitor, a small extemal recorder usually worn for one to three days, and a por- table event monitor that enables a patient to record an AF. Many people live foryears problem-free with atrial fibril- lation. However, chronic atrial fibrillation can cause problems. Besides stroke, there is the dan- ger that clots can travel to other parts of the body (kidneys, heart, intestines), causing dam- age. AF can decrease the heart's pumping ability by as much as 20 to 25 percent. AF combined with a fast heart rate over a long period of time can cause heart failure. AF symptoms include a rac- ing or fluttering heart, fatigue, dizziness, feeling faint, chest discomfort, and shortness of breath. However, you can have atrial fibrillation without symp- toms. Initially, medications are used to treat atrial fibrillation. There are also medications to prevent blood clots. In addition to taking medications, there are lifestyle changes you can make. These include: quitting smoking, limiting alcohol and caffeine, and avoiding activi- ties that seem related to your irregular heart rhythm. When initial remedies don't correct or control AF, a proce- dure such as electrical cardio- version may be necessary. In this procedure, an electrical shock is delivered to your chest wall to restore a normal rhythm. Then there are devices such as an implantable atrial defibril- lator that delivers low-dose therapy to convert AF to a normal heart rhythm. Patients with chronic AF not relieved by medication or pro- cedures are candidates for sur- gical treatment. Many of these approaches can be performed with minimally invasive (endo- scopic or "keyhole") surgical techniques. If you would like to ask a question, write to Sponsorships still available for Sept. 14 Wings of Hope event The Fourth Annual Wings of Hope... A Butterfly Release to benefit the Cancer Support Com- munity Delaware is scheduled 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 13 (rain date Sunday, Sept 14) at the Medical Arts Building, 18947 John ]. Williams Highway in Rehoboth Beach. Wings of Hope ... A Butterfly Release is a com- munity-wide event in support of all Sussex County neighbors who have been touched by cancer. Admission is free and all ages are welcome. Committed sponsors and underwriters to date include Tunnell Cancer Center, Grotto Pizza, Delaware VOIP, Del-One Foundation, Tunnell & Raysor, Lyons Companies, Morris ]ames LLP and lack Lingo Realtor. Sponsorship and underwriting opportunities are still available. For details, contact Lily Gosnear, special events coordinator, at 302- 645-9150 or Orthopaedic Surgery at Beebe Healthcare Return to the fife you love. We provide comprehensive orthopaedic services and programs designed to treat injuries and conditions affecting spine, bones, muscles, and joints. Orthopaedic care from diagnosis through treatment or surgery through rehabilitation is part of Beebe's commitment to providing the highest standard of care. For details, visit or call (302) 645-3300. BBeebe Orthopaedic Services Lewes, Delaware. ID