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Atrial Fibrillation (cont.)

When to Call a Doctor

Some symptoms of atrial fibrillation need urgent medical evaluation.

Call or other emergency services immediately if you:

If you see someone pass out, call or other emergency services immediately.

Call your doctor if you have:

  • An irregular heart rate.
  • Heart palpitations.
  • Periods of unexplained lightheadedness, dizziness, or confusion.
  • An episode of fainting or you come close to fainting for no apparent reason.
  • Shortness of breath that gets worse with exercise.

Anticoagulants

If you take an anticoagulant, such as warfarin (Coumadin), watch for signs of bleeding.

Call if:

  • You cough up blood.
  • You vomit blood or what looks like coffee grounds.
  • You pass maroon or very bloody stools.
  • You have a sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches. (It may be a sign of bleeding in the brain.)

Call your doctor right away if:

  • You have new bruises or blood spots under your skin.
  • You have a nosebleed that doesn't stop quickly.
  • Your gums bleed when you brush your teeth.
  • You have blood in your urine.
  • Your stools are black and look like tar or have streaks of blood.
  • You have heavy period bleeding or vaginal bleeding when you are not having your period.

If you are injured, apply pressure to stop the bleeding. Realize that it will take longer than you are used to for the bleeding to stop. If you can't get the bleeding to stop, call your doctor.

Who to See

The following health professionals can detect, diagnose and, in some cases, treat atrial fibrillation:

In general, the extent to which you will need specialized care will depend on how bad your symptoms are and how complex your case is. Many people who have only mild symptoms or whose arrhythmia is not causing other problems may continue to see their primary care doctors for the ongoing management of the condition.

But some people with atrial fibrillation have severe symptoms and may benefit from regular monitoring and treatment by a more specialized physician, such as a:

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eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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