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 FAQs Coping with A-Fib: Circulation

FAQs A-Fib afib“I am in Chronic (all-the-time) A-Fib. I feel tired and a little light-headed, probably because my atria aren’t pumping properly. Is there any way I can improve my circulation, without having to undergo a Catheter Ablation (poor success rate and risky at my age) or Surgery (even more risky)?”

In theory, yes. In Chronic A-Fib it’s not unusual to feel tired and light-headed. Your atria are fibrillating instead of pumping blood into the ventricles. Blood flow to your brain and other organs is reduced by about 15%-30%. But your ventricles still function by suctioning blood from the atria much like a turkey baster sucks up liquid.

To some extent, you can improve the strength and capacity of your ventricles by exercise, such as by walking on a treadmill or at the shopping mall.

You can also improve the oxygen saturation of your blood by using an Oxygen Concentrator ($500-$1,000). While on a treadmill, for example, you can breath in concentrated oxygen through a cannula, a flexible tube you insert into your nostrils. You can measure how much oxygen is in your blood by using an pulse oximeter ($50). The desired range is 95-100% oxygen saturation. (Some athletes with good circulation use this technique to improve their athletic performance.)

Don’t dismiss the treatment options of catheter ablation or mini-maze surgery. Both have high success rates with low rates of complication. With Chronic A-Fib, the longer you wait to cure your A-Fib, the harder it gets.

Be cautious: While improved circulation is good for your overall health, don’t over do the exercising. It could be counterproductive. With Chronic A-Fib your heart is already working harder than a normal healthy heart. Adding even more demand can lead to more enlargement and remodeling.

The Bottom Line: the real question is whether these techniques will improve your A-Fib symptoms of feeling tired and light-headed. I’m unaware of any studies demonstrating the effectiveness of the above techniques for the symptoms of Chronic A-Fib.

References:
¤  The Link Between Infections and Inflammation in Heart Disease. Life Extension Vitamins. Last accessed November 5, 2012   http://www.lifeextensionvitamins.com/cadico6otco.html

¤  Atrial Flutter. Heart Rhythm Society website. Last accessed March 30, 2014. URL: http://www.hrsonline.org/Patient-Resources/Heart-Diseases-Disorders/Atrial-Flutter

¤  “Atrial Fibrillation Educational Material” University of Pennsylvania. 2002, p. 3.[/su_pullquote]

Back to FAQs: Coping with Your A-Fib

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