‘I listened to my body’: Bryan Heart patient urges atrial fibrillation awareness

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – September is Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month, and Bryan Heart doctors are sounding the alarm since it is one of the leading causes of stroke.

A-fib is when the upper and lower chambers of the heart don’t beat in sync.

That causes the heart to beat irregularly.

Symptoms people may experience include heart palpitations, extreme fatigue, shortness of breath and lightheadedness.

If it is left untreated, it can cause blood clots, which dramatically increase the risk of stroke.

“When you have a-fib, because you don’t have a forceful contraction of your top chambers, boom, boom, your top chambers are just quivering,” said Dr. Robert Percell, electrophysiologist at Bryan Heart. “So the blood that’s going through there tends to coagulate and cause clots. These clots can break off and cause a stroke. And no one wants to be in a nursing home with a stroke sipping on a straw because they can’t move half of their body.”

Mark Epp, a patient at Bryan, noticed these symptoms and got the help he needed fast.

“I listened to myself, I listened to my body, and then I did something about it,” Epp said.

He got an ablation, a procedure in which a surgeon puts a catheter through a vein in your leg and up to your heart.

The doctor then freezes or burns the tissue around those veins in the heart to help stop the irregular beats.

If you or someone you know is having a-fib symptoms, reach out to your doctor.

Epp said it’s a simple procedure.

“Not all that tough,” he said. “You do it, and you get out the same day.”

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