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In November 2014, the Heart Rhythm Society (HRS) and National Stroke Association, in collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim (BI), shared results from a survey of more than 1,200 respondents to evaluate the impact of AFib and stroke on patients and caregivers, and the concurrent perceptions physicians have about treatment options and their patients’ understanding of issues surrounding the condition.

Even people who look healthy and free of heart disease can have arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms), but those with heart disease are at the highest risk. So, reducing heart disease is important to lowering the risk of arrhythmias. Since the cause of an arrhythmia is not always clear, the best course of action is to prevent and treat heart problems, such as atherosclerosis (“clogged” arteries) and high blood pressure

The heart is a fist-sized muscle that pumps blood through the body 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, without rest. The normal heart is made up of four parts: two atria on the top of the heart (right atrium and left atrium), and two ventricles (right ventricle and left ventricle), the muscular chambers on the bottom that provide the major power to pump blood. These four chambers are connected by valves that allow blood to move forward and prevent it from flowing backwards. Coronary arteries, or blood vessels, deliver a constant, nourishing supply of blood to the heart muscle.

With each heartbeat, the heart contracts (or squeezes) and relaxes. Every contraction pushes blood out of the two pumping chambers (ventricles). When the heart relaxes, the ventricles refill with blood. Ejection fraction (EF) refers to the amount, or percentage, of blood that is pumped (or ejected) out of the ventricles with each contraction. 

Many people with AFib feel no symptoms at all. They do not know they have AFib or that there is a problem. Others can tell as soon as it happens. The symptoms of AFib are different for each person. This depends on age, the cause of the AFib (such as heart problems or other diseases), and on how much AFib affects the pumping of the heart.

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The Heart Rhythm Society (HRS) strives to improve the health of patients with heart rhythm disorders through education, research, and advocacy. HRS is a recognized leader for information and resources on heart rhythm disorders. Patients with heart rhythm disorders, as well as the health care professionals who treat them, recognize and use the Society as a primary source for current information and connection with others.