Atrial fibrillation is serious, but treatment options continue to grow, from Harvard Men’s Health Watch

When at rest, the average person's heart beats between 50 and 100 times a minute. But sometimes the mechanisms that regulate the heart's rate and rhythm go awry, leading to irregular heartbeats called arrhythmias. The most common is type is atrial fibrillation (AF), a fast and irregular heartbeat. According to the November 2011 Harvard Men's Health Watch, AF is becoming more common. Treatment can help, and doctors continue to develop new options for people who don't do well with the standard treatments.

The consequences of AF are enormous. AF increases the risk of stroke fivefold and almost doubles the risk of premature death. It can lead to heart failure and angina. And each year it accounts for 400,000 hospital admissions, 5 million office visits, and health care costs of over $6.5 billion.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »