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Your Heart Could Cause a Stroke - Cardiology

It’s the leading cause of serious long term disability in the U.S. Studies show each year nearly 800,000 people suffer a stroke. Dr. Paul DiGiorgi, a cardiothoracic surgeon with Lee Health, says half of these patients also have an unknown heart condition. “Over 50 percent of patients who are over 80 who have had a stroke have A-fib.”

A-Fib, also known as atrial fibrillation, is an irregular heartbeat. “It’s very common arrhythmia that patients can have and it’s a very common cause of stroke,” said Dr. DiGiorgi.

Patients who get symptoms from A-fib most commonly have shortness of breath, fatigue, heart palpitations, and chest pain. It becomes more prevalent with age. “The prevalence of A-fib is very closely related to some lifestyle problems such as obesity and diabetes and COPD,” said Dr. DiGiorgi.

A-fib happens when the back chambers of the heart are not beating properly. “When the back chambers of the heart are not beating appropriately they are not squeezing the blood through, and the blood becomes stagnate. You get so much stagnation of blood that you actually form clots, and those clots can break off and go to the brain and cause a stroke,” said Dr. DiGiorgi.

Doctors say an estimated 5 million people in the U.S. are living with A-fib, many unaware of the condition. “Unfortunately, many times the A-fib diagnosis is made when patients present with a stroke,” said Dr. DiGiorgi.

Some patients may have no symptoms of A-fib, making it important to have regular visits with your doctor. “It’s important to recognize the problem and follow up with your physician to correct the problem before it’s too late,” said Dr. DiGiorgi.

If caught in time, there are many treatment options for A-fib, including lifestyle changes.

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Lee Health in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of health care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For more than 100 years, we’ve been providing our community with personalized preventative health services and primary care to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Lee Health - Caring People. Inspiring Care.