Rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, even anxiety can all be symptoms of a common heart rhythm disorder called atrial fibrillation.
“Atrial fibrillation is caused by an irregular heart rate in which one of the chambers of the heart, which we have the upper chambers and the lower chambers, and the upper chambers in a way misbehave and begins to beat in a fast way,” said Dr. Jesus Mendiolaza, a cardiologist with Lee Health.
This can cause the patient to experience symptoms similar to anxiety. “A lot of my patients when they come to see me, they thought it was anxiety and it was atrial fibrillation,” said Dr. Mendiolaza.
While the symptoms can mimic one another, doctors say there are ways to determine if a patient has atrial fibrillation. “There are a lot of ways to diagnose. The first corner stone is to get what we call an echo cardiogram, which is an EKG. It’s a tracing of the heart in which we put some electrodes in the chest and get an EKG and check all the heart rates and rhythm and see if there is any irregular heart rate or pattern,” said Dr. Mendiolaza.
Patients may also undergo a heart ultrasound to examine all four chambers of the heart, a stress test, where health experts monitor the patient’s heart during a series of strenuous exercises, or a Holter monitor. “A Holter monitor is where the patient wears a device that allows us to check for 24 or 48 hours, with normal activities, how the heart is behaving and how the heart is functioning. We can capture atrial fibrillation with that test as well,” said Dr. Mendiolaza.
These tests can reveal if the patient’s symptoms are caused by atrial fibrillation or anxiety. If a patient experiences symptoms regularly doctors strongly encourage they get checked.
View More Health Matters video segments at LeeHealth.org/Healthmatters/
Lee Health in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of health care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For more than 100 years, we’ve been providing our community with personalized preventative health services and primary care to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Lee Health – Caring People. Inspiring Care.