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Home : News : News
NEWS | Feb. 13, 2014

Arrhythmia cases rising among younger people

By Lt. Col. Alexies Ramirez BAMC Electrophysiology Arrhythmia Service Director

A 34-year-old surgeon was getting ready for a surgical procedure when he suddenly felt his heart racing. He was feeling well previously, until the symptoms began during an otherwise routine morning at the San Antonio Military Medical Center.

A 42-year-old emergency department staff member was busy working his shift when he felt a fluttering sensation in his chest, accompanied by a shortness of breath and dizziness.

These two examples are common symptoms of a heart rhythm disorder called atrial fibrillation or AFib.

The overall incidence of AFib is increasing dramatically and healthy young individuals are increasingly diagnosed with this prevalent arrhythmia. It is estimated that by the year 2050, 16 million Americans will be diagnosed with AFib.

Symptoms include fatigue, poor exercise stamina, chest pain, shortness of breath, fluttering sensation in the chest (palpitations) and, at times, fainting spells.

The fact that a growing number of young people are diagnosed with arrhythmia is very concerning; however, AFib is treatable. The greatest ally in the treatment of this prevalent arrhythmia is time; early recognition and early intervention may lead to a greater chance of successful arrhythmia control.

Untreated AFib may ultimately lead to heart damage, disability due to stroke and for some, reduced life expectancy, especially for older individuals as it is the leading cause of stroke.

The Electrophysiology Arrhythmia Service at SAMMC can help detect the early signs of AFib before it may lead to serious complications.

The service offers a state-of-the-art comprehensive arrhythmia management to include catheter ablations. Catheter ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that uses radiofrequency or heat energy delivered through catheters to modify the heart's electrical signals.

The department also has an active atrial fibrillation program to better understand the epidemiology, causes and the impact of AFib.

The EP Arrhythmia Service also takes care of retired beneficiaries with AFib as well as all TRICARE beneficiaries.

Any eligible person with recognized atrial fibrillation and other forms of arrhythmias can call 916-5214 or 916-1313 to arrange a consultation and discuss a personalized approach to arrhythmia care.