From the Parish Nurse

Dear Church Family,

Before I launch into our topic, be sure to see the announcement for our September PASSAGES event.  Also, the Parish Health Ministry Team would like ideas from parents on topics dealing with children and/or family dynamics they would like information on.  Please contact me with any ideas.

This month’s topic is Atrial fibrillation.  I have touched on this before, but we have recently had a new group of people diagnosed with it, so it may be time for an update.

Atrial Fibrillation is an abnormal condition in which the heart’s upper chambers (atria) beat rapidly, irregularly and do not pump blood in sync with the lower chambers.  This often causes a pooling of blood which can lead to blood clots.  Atrial fibrillation can happen infrequently, but if it becomes more constant it raises more risks.

Not everyone who has Atrial fibrillation experiences symptoms.  Frequently, symptoms include heart palpitations (rapid and irregular heartbeats), unexplained fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath and chest pain. A pulse rate during an episode of Atrial fibrillation is generally in the range of 100 – 175 beats per minute.  Complications from Atrial fibrillation are stroke and heart failure. 

Treatments for Atrial fibrillation include goals of preventing blood clots from forming and possibly “resetting” the heart rate and rhythm.  Blood thinning drugs are used to prevent clots: Warfarin (Coumadin), Dabigatran (Pradaxa), Rivaroxaban (Xarelto), and Apixaban (Eliquis) are the drugs I’ve seen prescribed in this congregation.  Another less used method is Left atrial appendage closure.  This is a surgical procedure done with a catheter floated into the heart through a leg vein.  This is used to close a sac in the left atrium where clots generally form.

Heart rate is often restored to normal with meds such as Digoxin (Lanoxin). When meds don’t work, cardioversion is often used.   Cardioversion is the term used for resetting the heart rate/rhythm.  It is done with an electrical shock or meds.  The heart is briefly stopped in hopes that it will “reset” and start up in a normal rhythm.  Another surgical procedure that is used for erratic heart rates is catheter ablation.  A catheter is floated up to the heart through a leg vein, instruments in the catheter are used to destroy the area of the heart causing erratic electric impulses.  I’m out of room again!!!  I will have more info out in Fellowship Hall.

God Bless,  Beth