New Study Finds Link Between Post Traumatic Stress Disorder And Increased Risk Of Developing Atrial Fibrillation A New Study Is The First To Report A Relationship Between Post
Presented at Heart Rhythm 2018, first-of-its-kind, large scale study includes more than 1 million post-9/11 veterans receiving medical care
A new study is the first to report a relationship between post-traumatic stress disorder and new cases of atrial fibrillation , the most common heart arrhythmia. The large nationwide study included more than 1 million patients with no prior history of AF or atrial flutter. The study is scheduled to be presented on Friday, May 11 at Heart Rhythm 2018, the Heart Rhythm Societys 39th Annual Scientific Sessions.
AF affects more than 2.7 million American adults each year and this number is expected to increase to nearly eight million by the year 2050. Since AF significantly impacts both patients and the healthcare system, researchers are committed to identifying risks factors and developing novel strategies to prevent and manage the arrhythmia. Thus far, AF has been linked to traditional cardiovascular risk factors, including hypertension, diabetes, obesity and sleep apnea. Data linking psychological stress and negative emotions to AF are also beginning to emerge. PTSD is a related chronic stress condition that has been linked to other cardiovascular disease , however, its relationship to AF has not been previously studied.
Sessions details:Featured Poster Session & Reception: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder And The Risk For Incident Atrial Fibrillation
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About the Heart Rhythm Society
Afib And Managing Anxiety
There are all kinds of methods and resources available to help people reduce stress and anxiety levels. Some of the ones youâre probably familiar with are healthy exercise, taking nutritional supplements and using a licensed therapist.
Those are great, but people who also have Afib should focus on methods that control and steady their heartbeat. Breathing exercises are particularly helpful, as well as simple things like listening to soothing music and always doing your best to remove yourself from stressful situations. If youâd like a guide, there are lots of excellent mindfulness apps you can try that are completely free.
If you suffer from chronic anxiety symptoms, you should definitely speak to your doctor if you havenât already.
More Stress Means More Complications
In a study of 100 patients with intermittent AFib, the impact of stress was clear: 54% of participants reported that not only was stress a concern, but it was the cause of a majority of their attacks.
At the best of times, stress is simply an annoyance, but as it builds, it can lead to more significant problems. For some, stress triggers depression and general anxiety, and if left unchecked, these can counteract all your best efforts to control your AFib. After all, dwelling on AFib symptoms and the fact that they could strike again will feed anxiety, and anxiety will feed your symptoms.
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How Does Broken Heart Syndrome Differ From A Heart Attack
Most heart attacks occur due to blockages and blood clots forming in the coronary arteries, which supply the heart with blood. If these clots cut off the blood supply to the heart for a long enough time, heart muscle cells will die, leaving the heart with scar tissue and irreversible damage.
People experiencing broken heart syndrome frequently have normal coronary arteries and often do not have severe blockages or clots. The heart cells of people experiencing broken heart syndrome are stunned by the adrenaline and other stress hormones. Fortunately, this gets better very quickly in most cases, often within weeks or just a few days. Most patients dont have scar tissue or damage.
Ways To Reduce Stress When You Have Atrial Fibrillation
Need to calm yourself, and your heart rhythm, down? Relax, we have some research-backed ways to keep stress from triggering or worsening afib.
Stress is an undeniable part of most of our lives. Were bombarded daily with myriad reasons to feel stressed or anxious, from political news and financial worries to illness and work woes. Stress is clearly understood to be psychologically taxing, but evidence is piling up that points to its physiological effects as well. One clear example is the way in which chronic levels of stress impact your heart and cardiovascular health overall.
That effect is amplified if you already have a cardiovascular condition. For people with heart arrhythmias like atrial fibrillation, or afib the most common form of heart rhythm abnormality stress may trigger or worsen episodes. An estimated 2.1 to 6.7 million Americans have afib, according to the Centers for Disease Control , and this number is expected to rise as the population ages.
In afib, electrical activity that normally regulates heart rhythm is out of whack, making the upper chambers of the heart beat erratically, says Eric J. Rashba, MD, director of the Heart Rhythm Center at Stony Brook University Heart Institute in New York. Over time, poor blood flow to the area can prompt clots to form, and lead to a far higher risk of stroke.
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Determinants Of The Change In Number And Frequency Of Subjective Symptoms
Four weeks after the ECV, 56% of patients were still in SR.
Number of symptoms
Linear mixed modeling of the repeated assessments of the AF symptom reports and the emotional distress questionnaires showed that the baseline and post-ECV symptom reports did not differ significantly from each other, as there was no effect of time .
Table 6. Associates of change in the reported number and frequency of AF symptoms before and after ECV.
Frequency of symptoms
The reported frequency of AF symptoms was not associated with the time of assessment . The change in reported frequency of AF symptoms over time was significantly affected by the maintenance of SR as assessed by ECG-confirmed AF status at follow-up, with patients in SR at follow-up reporting AF symptoms with a lower frequency both before and after ECV than patients that had reverted to AF rhythm . Adding both covariates to the model reduced the effect of the successfulness of the ECV to trend level. In the final step we added the measures of emotional distress. Results showed that the course of the reported frequency of AF symptoms was significantly associated with change in depression over this time period, i.e., with 1 point increase in depression score, the AF frequency report also increased 0.75 points . Anxiety and perceived stress were not significant in this final model, indicating that changes in anxiety and stress were unrelated to changes in the frequency of AF symptoms.
Enlist Support From Your Loved Ones
Recognize that A-Fib can have significant consequences on your social interactions with your family and colleagues. Sit down and have a talk with your significant other, your friends and co-workers. Explain what A-Fib is, how it affects you and how it makes you feel. Ask for their understanding. They will want to help you, so be prepared to answer their questions.
Use social media, if possible, to keep in touch.
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What Can You Do At Home For Atrial Fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation is often the result of heart disease or damage. So making changes that improve the condition of your heart may also improve your overall health.
- Don’t smoke. Avoid second-hand smoke too.
- Eat a heart-healthy diet with plenty of fish, fruits, vegetables, beans, high-fibre grains and breads, and olive oil.
- Get regular exercise on most, preferably all, days of the week. Your doctor can suggest a safe level of exercise for you.
- Stay at a healthy weight. Lose weight if you need to.
- Manage other health problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
- Manage your stress. Stress can damage your heart.
- Avoid alcohol if it triggers symptoms.
- Avoid getting sick from the flu. Get a flu shot every year.
How Stress Relates To Afib
While stress does not directly cause atrial fibrillation, it can have an effect on a patients episodes. The most common risk factors for AFib are high blood pressure, diabetes, age, or a family history of AFib. Stress can have a great effect on a patients condition and lead to increased AFib episodes.
Patients may notice longer or more severe AFib episodes during times of stress. Studies have shown that a high percentage of people with AFib experience increased levels of stress. AFib is also linked to other effects on mental health, including depression.
Anxiety Can Cause Arrhythmia
As previously stated, anxiety can actively cause arrhythmia, but the reason why is somewhat unclear. It is known that a person’s heartbeat may speed up during times of stress , but an arrhythmia tends to be much more sudden and does not always come during times of intense anxiety.
Most likely an arrhythmia occurs in response to a sudden surge of adrenaline that the body creates when it is stressed. It could also be due to muscle tension, hyperventilation, or nerve firings that may occur due to the anxiety. Studies have shown that those with anxiety are more prone to extra muscle contractions of the heart, which can also lead to arrhythmia. Unfortunately, while there are studies on this topic, none have been conclusive as to the exact mechanism of how this occurs.
What Are Afib Symptoms To Watch For
You may be experiencing atrial fibrillation if you feel:
- Your heart skipping beats
- A fluttering in your chest
- Acute chest pain
- Shortness of breath
People with anxiety will also recognize these signs, as they can also be signs of a panic attack. While the signs are similar, the causes are very different, so it is important to understand the differences between the two.
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Quality Of Life As Outcome Variable In Af Trials
The views of the physician and the patient on what they consider to be a successful therapeutic procedure may share only minimal agreement . Therefore, it is now widely accepted that patient expectations and values regarding treatment should be part of patient-oriented health care, and patients preference of various treatment options should be integrated into clinical trials . Among patient-reported outcomes in AF research, assessment of treatment satisfaction is one option, with questionnaires such as PACT-Q2 , which scores along two domains . PACT-Q2 was applied in the multicenter ENSURE-AF study, a prospective randomized trial of anticoagulation for cardioversion in AF patients, to evaluate the impact of novel oral anticoagulant therapy on treatment satisfaction . After 4 weeks, patients treated with the index medication were more satisfied than the control treatment group. Interestingly, differences in treatment satisfaction scores were significantly higher in patients who underwent non-transesophageal echocardiography -guided cardioversion than in patients who underwent TOE-guided cardioversion.
Link Between Atrial Fibrillation & Depression Anxiety
Atrial fibrillation is a heart disease which is characterized by irregular heart rhythm. Abnormal heartbeat can affect the blood flow and can lead to stroke, heart failure, and other heart complications. Atrial fibrillation is a very common health problem, increasing worldwide. Most of the people who suffer from Atrial fibrillation, present the symptom of mood disorder. Studies show that every third person who suffers from heart disease also has anxiety and depression as a symptom.
The level of anxiety and depression are affected by the treatment of atrial fibrillation.
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What Is Atrial Fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heartbeat or a rapid heartbeat or a quivering of the upper chambers of the heart. It is due to a malfunction in the heartÃ¢s electrical system and is the most common heart irregularity or cardiac arrhythmia. The risk of atrial fibrillation increases significantly after the age of 50 years. It is more common in men than women. Many a time, it occurs without any obvious warning signs. But, if they do occur, the symptoms include:
1. An uneven pulse
2. A racing or pounding heart
3. A feeling that the heart is fluttering
4. Chest pain
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Continue Learning About Atrial Fibrillation
Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.
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Treatment To Prevent Stroke
Atrial fibrillation is dangerous because if the heartbeat isn’t strong and steady, blood can collect, or pool, in the atria. And pooled blood is more likely to form clots. Clots can travel through the bloodstream to the brain and cause a stroke.
Your doctor can help you know your risk of a stroke based on your age and health. This information can help you and your doctor decide how to lower your risk.
If you are at an average-to-high risk of having a stroke, your doctor may prescribe long-term use of an anticoagulant medicine to lower this risk.
If you are at low risk of having a stroke, you may choose to take daily aspirin or to not take a blood thinning medicine.
For more information, see Medications.
A device may be implanted to try to lower the risk of stroke. The device may prevent blood clots from moving out of the heart and causing a stroke. The device is placed inside of the heart with a procedure that uses catheters in blood vessels. This device might be used in some people who cannot take an anticoagulant long-term.
For more information on this device, see Other Treatments.
Impact Of Sociodemographic Factors On Af Incidence And Progression
Apart from mental psychosocial stress factors, socioeconomic and environmental social factors may also affect the onset and course of AF. By using US vital statistics for 55- to 89-year-old white and black subjects , Patton et al. compared demographic AF-related mortality risk within the US stroke belt , a disadvantaged region in the southeastern United States, against the national average AF-related mortality. They found an odds ratio of 1.19 in black and 1.09 in white subjects for AF-related mortality associated with SB birth. A subsequent study confirmed these findings with data from 24,323 participants in the US Health and Retirement Study, but failed to identify an association with any specific childhood or adult cardiovascular risk factors, suggesting that there are as yet unidentified early life factors relevant to the development of AF.
In summary, living in deprived neighborhoods, low levels of formal education, and involuntary unemployment are proxies for a low social class gradient, which contributes to an increased risk of AF onset or an adverse course of AF, thus raising important clinical and public health concerns. These data also show that AF is embedded as a disease condition in a societal context and is not an isolated medical problem per se.
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Choose Healthy Relaxation Techniques
Clearly, stress should be controlled for a better quality of life. One of the simplest ways to stop tension from building up in your body and mind is through healthy daily habits.
Start with a healthy diet. Fortunately, there are plenty of heart-healthy foods that are also known to combat stress focus on getting some of these into your diet:
While its unclear whether certain foods can immediately bring down your stress level, some things are known to push it up. Caffeine is the most common culprit, as it stimulates your nervous system, but sugar and other simple carbs will lead to fluctuating blood sugar levels that can leave you feeling moody and on edge, too.
Exercise goes a long way. Regular exercise is great at reducing stress, but prioritize frequency over intensity. Your doctor will be able to give you guidelines that will help you stay in a safe zone when youre working out. Brisk walking or gentle cycling can be a good place to begin. Find an activity that keeps your muscles moving without causing you to strain or lose your breath and commit to making it a part of your daily or weekly routine.
Anxiety And Atrial Fibrillation: Similar Symptoms But Not The Same
COVID-19 has wreaked havoc across the globe, eliciting emotions ranging from nervousness and fear to extreme worry. For some, simply turning on the local and national news has triggered stress and anxiety leading to racing, pounding hearts and shortness of breath. But what if these symptoms are indicators of something more?
When it comes to matters of the heart, experts caution not to ignore or dismiss any symptoms for they could be warnings of the most common type of irregular heartbeat: Atrial Fibrillation or AFib.
Anxiety or Atrial Fibrillation?
In stressful situations, anxiety can cause the body to mirror similar symptoms of AFib, but its important to note that both are different medical issues.
Anxiety is an intense feeling of worry or unease prompted by pressure or stress from an everyday situation. It can be brought on by fear of certain activities or thoughts that become all-consuming to the point they interfere with normal, day-to-day routines.
Symptoms of anxiety may include:
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Anxiety And Afib: Know The Difference And Learn The Signs
It is an understatement to say that we live in uncertain times. Simply turning on the news can lead many of us to a pounding heartbeat or shortness of breath. It is important now more than ever to recognize these types of symptoms and understand what may be causing them.
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How You Can Reduce Your Stress To Protect Your Heart
While eliminating stress from our lives entirely is not feasible, there are several simple steps to help you reduce and manage your stress level on your journey to better your heart health. Thankfully, several of these strategies are similar to overall solutions for living healthier with AFib, including:
- Consuming a healthy diet Consuming the same types of heart-friendly foods recommended for AFib patients can also help you control your stress. Diet and mental health are closely connected, so make sure you are eating plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats, and limiting your intake of animal fats, processed foods and sugar.
- Getting regular exercise Exercise releases endorphins, which have been shown to lower stress levels and elevate your mood. Since exercise also helps your heart work more efficiently, maintaining a proper activity regimen is a win-win.
- Using relaxation techniques Whether you like to meditate, practice yoga, pray, or simply relax quietly with a book, freeing your mind form your troubles can be an effective way to take your attention off the stressors of life for a while.
- Receiving support from family and friends Emotional support from your loved ones generally leads to less stress, so make sure you are reaching out to your friends and family to let them know you need their help to stay as healthy as possible.
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