Mood May Disrupt How Patients Perceive AF Symptoms

Atrial fibrillation is the most common form of serious heart arrhythmia’s, and an estimated 2.7 million Americans live with atrial fibrillation and require arrhythmia monitoring. Heart arrhythmia’s are irregularities in the natural rhythm of the heart, and atrial fibrillation specifically occurs when the electrical signals in the upper chambers of the heart cause them to quiver instead of contract smoothly. People afflicted with atrial fibrillation have increased risks of suffering a heart attack or stroke, which is why proper diagnosis and treatment is so important. However, a recent report from Brown University suggests that about 15 percent of atrial fibrillation patients cannot accurately measure the duration of arrhythmic episodes, and that the cause may be linked to the patients’ mood.

The report published in Heart Rhythm said that 458 outpatients with documented episodes of atrial fibrillation were asked to fill out a questionnaire about their arrhythmia episodes they experienced over the course of a week. This questionnaire specifically asked patients about the symptom and severity of each episode with self-estimates of their predominate heart rhythms. The results of the questionnaires were compared to the ECG monitoring the patients receive during the same seven days.

Remarkably, 85 percent of the patients were quite accurate in describing their perceived predominate heart rhythms. The remaining 15 percent either overestimated or underestimated the stress of atrial fibrillation they were actually experiencing. Overestimating was linked to the psychological condition of the patients in question while underestimating was linked to the older age of those patients. Since anxiety and depression are common in sufferers of atrial fibrillation, the report suggests that doctors use caution when relying on patient reports to assess the seriousness of their condition. This report can help doctors understand why there is discrepancies in patient reports that can lead to better treatment for the patient.

To find out more about atrial fibrillation and arrhythmia monitoring, browse the Medicomp, Inc. website or call 1-800-23-HEART to speak to one of our representatives.

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