Listen as Mellanie True Hills shares what her experiences living with Afib/Atrial Fibrillation were like.
Mellanie True Hills:
For me it was really less of an issue. I hear a lot of people talk about how they went through depression or a constant feeling of being imperfect, you know an imperfection, for me that wasn’t really the case. I come from a perspective of "Give me the facts and I’ll deal with them," and so when I left the hospital the doctor and I talked about what I needed to do. I left committed to making whatever changes were necessary in order to get myself back on track.
So I never really had the time to think about this imperfection. It was really about focusing on "How do I get back to normal? How do I solve this problem?" I am a problem-solver and so that’s really where I was focused was "How do I solve this problem?" and once I solved it for myself, it was "How do I solve this for others or help them solve it themselves?"
What is Atrial Fibrillation?
Atrial fibrillation, often referred to as "afib", is an irregular heartbeat, a rapid heartbeat, or a quivering of the upper chambers of the heart, called the atria. Atrial fibrillation is due to a malfunction in the heart's electrical system, and is the most common heart irregularity, or cardiac arrhythmia. For more detail about how the heart works and what happens to the heart when it is in atrial fibrillation, see About the Heart.
What Does Atrial Fibrillation Feel Like?
Different patients have different symptoms. Some patients describe afib as feeling like their heart has skipped a beat, followed by a thud and a speeding up or racing of the heart. Others describe it as an erratic heartbeat or strong heart palpitations. For still others, it feels like fluttering or butterflies in the chest, or worms that are dancing or crawling. Others have chest and throat pressure that mimics a heart attack, or constriction around the left bicep.
The first time, it's really scary, and you wonder, "Is this a heart attack?" It may leave you dizzy, faint, light-headed, anxious, breathless, weak, or just plain exhausted. After it stops, you may feel drained.
For some people, afib doesn't stop, and may continue on for hours, days, weeks, months, or even years.
For Mellanie True Hills, founder of StopAfib.org, her first afib incident started with a skipped heartbeat, followed by her heart racing. During one episode while she was out for a walk, within seconds her heart rate more than tripled on her heart rate monitor, reaching over 400 beats per minute. She always became so dizzy, nauseous, and lightheaded that she feared passing out with each episode.
Occasionally she is asked, "How can you tell when your heart skips a beat or starts racing?" Her answer usually is, "It's pretty obvious when your heart literally feels as though it is going to leap out of your chest."
Generally, afib is so overt that it's hard to miss, though for some afib patients, the symptoms can be subtle.
Heart Survivor, Author, and Speaker Mellanie is a heart survivor and the author of A Woman's Guide to Saving Her Own Life: The HEART Program for Health & Longevity. After having a brush with death in emergency heart surgery, Mellanie now uses her second chance to coach individuals in creating healthy lifestyles and organizations in creating healthy, productive workplaces.
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