In the morning, you meet with co-workers to discuss the projects to be worked on. Afterward, you assemble your PPE and inspect your work area. Everything looks good, so you proceed to start the equipment. After working a couple of hours, you feel some lightheadedness and pain in your shoulder; knowing you must complete what you are working on, you brush it off. After a few more minutes, you begin to sweat, feel a shortness of breath, and notice your heart beating faster. What you are unaware of; you are experiencing atrial fibrillation.

Discussion Points:
• What is Atrial Fibrillation?
• What triggers Atrial Fibrillation?
• What is the acronym used to help remember the warning signs of A-fib?
• How can you reduce the risk of A-fib?
• What are the symptoms of A-fib?

Atrial fibrillation (A-fib) is an irregular or abnormal beating of the heart, also known as arrhythmia. The abnormal rapid heart rhythm can lead to blood clots in the heart, increasing the risk of stroke, heart failure, or other heart-related problems. Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm disorder. In 2019, more than 454,000 people in the United States were hospitalized with A-fib as the primary diagnosis. The condition
contributes to approximately 158,000 deaths each year, and the death rate has been on the rise for more than twenty years; people with A-fib are five times more likely to experience a stroke. It’s important to know the warning signs of a stroke, and the acronym FAST may help; Face drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulty, and time to call 911.

Episodes of atrial fibrillation may last for only a short amount of time or may persist for hours, days, or longer. You may realize certain things trigger your A-fib; if possible, avoid these triggers, which may include alcohol, caffeine, smoking, stress, anxiety, and fatigue. If your job involves driving a forklift or a truck, there is much more concern when you have been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. A symptom-free period of at least six months is generally required before you are considered fit to drive. Your license may be subject to the condition of an annual cardiac assessment. You will need to discuss with your doctor and employer how your condition may affect your job. Atrial fibrillation may be a life-long condition that changes over time, but there are things you can do to help manage your condition. Managing your stress can improve your symptoms and your quality of life. Healthy lifestyle choices may reduce the risk of A-fib and other heart-related complications and prevent episodes of A-fib. It’s important to listen to your body.

As always, be safe out there!