Donate to Atrial Fibrillation Research, Patient Care and Education

Atrial fibrillation is a complex condition that affects close to five million people in the United States. This heart condition is responsible for 15 to 20 percent of all strokes and is more common in people 65 and older. Men are more at risk than women, and it is estimated that one in four people will develop atrial fibrillation, making it especially necessary that we continue to improve treatments for the condition, and that we ultimately find a cure. Your donation to Northwestern Memorial foundation will provide vital support to scientists at Northwestern Medicine who are conducting front-line research with the goal of eradicating atrial fibrillation.

The heartbeat is controlled by the heart’s electrical system, called the conduction system. The conduction system sends signals to the atria (top chambers) of your heart at regular intervals to control the rhythm of your heartbeat. Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heartbeat that prevents normal contraction of the atria. The atria quiver, decreasing the total amount of blood ejected from the heart with each heartbeat.

Many people with atrial fibrillation will not experience symptoms, but symptoms can start and stop suddenly with no warning or triggers. Those that do experience symptoms report heart palpitations, an irregular heartbeat that is either too fast or too slow, dizziness and/or lightheadedness, fainting, tightness in the chest or a stroke, as well as others. Any indication of symptoms should prompt a visit to a Northwestern physician. These symptoms are very inconvenient in daily life; your support helps us find treatments that make life with atrial fibrillation more comfortable.

The risk of developing atrial fibrillation increases with age. Other causes and risk factors include hypertension, coronary artery disease, dysfunction of the sinus node (the heart’s “natural pacemaker”), heart failure, mitral valve disorders, rheumatic heart disease, pericarditis, hyperthyroidism, family history of atrial fibrillation and excessive alcohol consumption. A full panel of tests can be conducted by scheduling an appointment at Northwestern Medicine’s Center for Heart Rhythm Disorders. A complete team of electrophysiologists (cardiology heart rhythm specialists), cardiac surgeons, and specially trained technicians and nurses will perform a battery of non-invasive procedures to accurately diagnose your condition. Your donation to Northwestern Memorial Foundation will help specialists at Northwestern Medicine to continue improving diagnostic techniques and to further develop methods of treatment for atrial fibrillation.

Medication is often the first line of defense against atrial fibrillation. While not a cure, these drugs often make symptoms less bothersome. Medication helps control heart rate and rhythm as well as helping to prevent strokes. A non-invasive treatment option is called catheter ablation, a non-surgical treatment with a high rate of success. An invasive Maze procedure, a type of open-heart surgery, might be an option, depending on the severity of the condition. Northwestern Medicine’s cardiovascular care teams perform both procedures with great success rates.

Atrial Fibrillation Research, Patient Care and Education Donation

With your donation to Northwestern Memorial Foundation, you will help Northwestern Medicine to remain on the leading edge of atrial fibrillation research and treatment.

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