Do you have a family history of afib? Protect your heart.

Kansas City Heart Rhythm Institute offers preventative Afib services for both primary Afib and secondary Afib. Our electrophysiology team accepts patients who may be at risk for developing Afib and patients who have been diagnosed with Afib and wish to better manage their condition for a healthier life.

  • Primary Afib prevention: We work with patients to prevent the onset of atrial fibrillation
  • Secondary Afib prevention: We work with patients to reduce the risk and impact of Afib recurrences

Find an electrophysiologist near me

(913) 934-4300

Primary and secondary atrial fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation, or Afib, can cause the heart to beat rapidly or irregularly. If there is no identified cause, it is known as primary Afib. If a cause can be identified, that is secondary Afib.

We know that 30 percent of the human population has a hereditary (genetic) risk for atrial fibrillation. Therefore, if you have a family member who has atrial fibrillation – like a parent, grandparent, sibling, aunt or uncle – then your risk for developing primary atrial fibrillation is significantly higher.

The risk and occurrence of primary Afib may increase with comorbidities, such as advanced age, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, obstructive sleep apnea and other environmental factors like alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking or drug abuse.

How do you prevent atrial fibrillation?

Patients with primary Afib may have a genetic predisposition for this condition, with advanced age and gender (females are at higher risk) also increasing the odds of developing Afib. The best way to prevent the onset of primary Afib is to address and modify any risk factors that may lead to a greater chance of developing this condition.

We seek to minimize the risk of recurrence and stroke for patients with secondary Afib. This may include procedures such as the implementation of a left atrial assist device (LAAD) and/or an ablation procedure. We then also work with these patients to address and modify risk factors.

Risk factors include:

  • Hypertension (blood pressure)
  • Obesity and weight management
  • Obstructive sleep apnea

Risk factor management and lifestyle changes:

  • Nutrition
  • Exercise (being physically active)
  • Getting enough rest
  • Stress management
  • Reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking and drug abuse

What are the symptoms of atrial fibrillation?

Patients with atrial fibrillation could have symptoms including rapid and/or irregular heartbeat or:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Skipped beats
  • Chest tightness or abnormal chest sensation
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue

There are still many patients who can’t tell they have atrial fibrillation. About 15 to 20 percent of Afib patients have asymptomatic atrial fibrillation, with no symptoms. These patients can be of any age, and we usually find they have a hereditary predisposition for Afib. Unaware that they have Afib, these patients may be at risk for stroke, a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or heart failure.

Learn more about atrial fibrillation causes and symptoms.

How is atrial fibrillation diagnosed?

The electrophysiologists at Kansas City Heart Rhythm Institute thoroughly investigate each patient’s family and medical history, symptoms, and risk factors. Diagnostic testing may include bloodwork, an echocardiogram (ECG), an electrocardiogram (EKG) and a longer-term heart monitor. We also work with a team of experts from various specialties to address each patient's unique needs. For example, we conduct sleep tests if a patient has a history of obstructive sleep apnea. We also identify risk factor modification strategies to address comorbidities, including cholesterol, hypertension and obesity.

The KCHRI electrophysiology team will review the patient’s results and assign a risk score: mild, moderate, or at high risk for Afib.

Learn more about diagnosing atrial fibrillation.

Wearable devices like smartwatches can also help patients monitor their heart rhythms.

There are also some preliminary genetic tests that are available, but the research is still evolving.

How do you treat atrial fibrillation?

If the electrophysiologists at Kansas City Heart Rhythm Institute determine a patient’s risk is low or mild for Afib, the patient will be placed on surveillance, made aware of symptoms and any recommended lifestyle modifications, and it is recommended the patient follow up with annual visits to their primary care provider or general cardiologist.

If a patient’s score is moderate or high risk for Afib, the patient will be scheduled for continued follow-up with a KCHRI electrophysiology provider.

If a patient has atrial fibrillation, treatment may include the appropriate rhythm and heart rate controlling medications, treatment to mitigate the risk of stroke using blood thinners, anticoagulants, and possibly a procedure called catheter ablation to destroy the tissue causing the Afib.

Learn more about atrial fibrillation treatments.

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Find an electrophysiologist near me

(913) 934-4300

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