Do You Have Atrial Fibrillation - Check Your Pulse

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What is atrial fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia. AF is paroxysmal or persistent and becomes permanent when it does not convert to a (regular) sinus rhythm spontaneously or when attempted electrical cardioversion fails.

What is the prevalence of atrial fibrillation?

The prevalence of AF is 0.4% in the general population and increases with age up to 6-8% in patients over the age of 80. In men, the age-adjusted prevalence is generally higher than in women. Over 2 million Americans have atrial fibrillation and the prevalence will surely increase, as Americans are living longer and longer.

How does an ex-professional athlete like Bill Bradley have a heart condition? It is extremely unlikely that he had atrial fibrillation when he was playing basketball and that he developed atrial fibrillation later on in his life.

Bill Bradley was campaigning on December 12, 1999 when he cancelled an appearance and went to a hospital in Redwood City, California for examination. The Bradley campaign team released a letter from Bradley's doctors who stated that he had "lone" atrial fibrillation, unassociated with an underlying disorder of the heart, such as coronary artery disease. The letter also stated that in Bill Bradley's case, the condition "does not, in any way, interfere with [his] ability to function."

Are there other politicians who have atrial fibrillation?

Yes, the elder President Bush suffered from atrial fibrillation during his term in the White House. His condition was presumably treated medically and there is no suggestion that he ever received cardioversion for his atrial fibrillation. According to newspaper records, Bradley has had electrical cardioversion three times as of December 1999.

Article by
Buffalo General Surgeon