Atrial fibrillation has in the meantime become something of an epidemic – and a dangerous one at that. Around 1.8 million people in Germany are affected. Atrial fibrillation is a particular type of abnormal heart rhythm in which the heart beats too rapidly and also irregularly. The two upper chambers of the heart (atria) beat out of synch with the two lower chambers (ventricles), and the heart valves open and close incompletely and not in coordination with each other. As a result, the heart can no longer pump effectively, and it loses 20 to 30 percent of its performance capacity. What makes this condition particularly dangerous is that it can cause small blood clots to form, which can then come loose and cause a stroke or embolism.
Generally speaking, the symptoms for all forms of abnormal heart rhythm are similar. The person experiences anxiety, sweating, heart palpitations, shortness of breath or fatigue. In most cases, however, no symptoms at all occur at first. Often, atrial fibrillation and the increased risk it entails remain undetected for too long, because the irregularities sometimes occur for only minutes at a time and are not detected in a normal EKG. It is therefore better to carry out a long-term, ambulatory EKG, in which the patient is equipped with a portable monitor. People should have themselves tested more thoroughly at the latest from the age of 50, because the risk of abnormal heart rhythms increases significantly with age. From the age of 50, it is about twice as high.
„Once diagnosed, it is important to determine the cause for the dysrhythmia, because this is the only way to select an effective treatment.“ Prof. Dr. Dietrich Baumgart explains. As cardiologist, internal specialist and preventive medical doctor he runs the Preventicum Center of Excellence in Essen and Düsseldorf together with radiologist Dr. med. Zadow- Eulerich.
The condition is often triggered by pathological changes in the heart, such as valvular defects, heart attack, vascular calcifications or inflammation of the heart muscle. But the thyroid may also be to blame.
Depending on the cause, abnormal heart rhythms may be treated through surgery or by installing a pacemaker. And lifestyle is also an influencing factor. In most cases, patients receive blood-thinning medication, which prevents the formation of a clot and thus offers effective protection against stroke or heart attack.
In recent years, various advanced anticoagulation medications have become available for treating atrial fibrillation. Although these have proven very effective and safe in clinical trials, they are repeatedly a topic of debate. It is negligent when patients who go on these medications simply stop taking their prescribed blood-thinning drugs. They then risk having a stroke, and are therefore putting their lives at stake. Anyone who is unsure of which medication to take or who is experiencing symptoms should urgently consult their cardiologist.
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PREVENTICUM has evolved over the years from a provider of check-ups to become one of the leading medical excellence centres in Germany. With our staff of 12 professors and medical specialists and the experience gained from examining over 22,000 patients, we stand for in-depth diagnostics and consultation combined with a personal approach.
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Scope of services Internal Medicine | Cardiology | Radiology | Gastroenterology | Diabetology | Neurology | Endocrinology | Angiology | - The Preventicum team works intersdisciplinary to reveal the full picture of your health status. Based on comprehensive diagnostic data, patients receive an individual treatment. www.preventicum.de
PROF. DR. MED. BAUMGART is head of the group practice and an internationally recognized internist and cardiologist. He previously headed the cardiac catheterization laboratory at Essen University Hospital. Prof. Baumgart is the author of numerous medical publications and books and is also active as a reviewer.
He is a member of the European Society of Cardiology and the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Prevention Organization (IPO). He regularly holds lectures on issues in cardiology and preventive medicine at national and international conferences and symposia.
Preventicum – Center of Excellence Prof. Dr. Dietrich Baumgart, Dr. Thomas Zadow-Eulerich Theodor-Althoff-Straße 47, 45133 Essen Telefon 0201/8 47 17-0 www.preventicum.de