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Heart specialist educates community on Atrial Fibrillation

15-05-2019

BPH Dr Kit Wong_lowresA cardiologist from the Buderim Private Hospital has released an educational video which aims to help community members experiencing Atrial Fibrillation (AF).

Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications.

The latest video in the Buderim Private Hospital’s Care to Share video series features an exclusive interview with Dr Kit Wong who shares vital information on AF such as what symptoms to look out for and the potential benefits of treatment.

“The symptoms of atrial fibrillation are varied. There are individuals who have atrial fibrillation and are totally unaware they have a rhythm abnormality. On the opposite end of the scale, there are people who experience atrial fibrillation and they are aware of the symptoms almost immediately – these can include breathlessness, chest pain or even feeling fatigued and lethargic,” Dr Wong said.

“Other symptoms can include the sensation of your heart racing and thumping, which sometimes even keeps people awake at night. The rate of the heart is also very irregular and can feel quite uncomfortable,” he said.

The prevalence of atrial fibrillation is between one and five per cent of the population with the incidence increasing to up to 10 per cent in people over the age of 65, which means that AF could be affecting more than 5000 people on the Sunshine Coast.

“I encourage our community to be aware of the condition and some of the symptoms that may occur so they can seek a diagnosis and the appropriate treatments,” Dr Wong said.

“If you have symptoms and you are concerned, please make an appointment to see your GP. Your doctor can diagnose atrial fibrillation by performing an electrocardiogram or ECG. An ECG is a very simple method of getting electrical tracing of your heart, which involves putting a range of electrical wires on your chest and arms, and recording the electrical tracing,” he said.

“Atrial fibrillation is mostly treated by medication to help achieve a normal heart rhythm. We also strongly recommend people should be taking anticoagulants, which is a blood thinner, to help reduce the risk of stroke which is associated with this condition. If left untreated, some individuals are also at risk of developing heart failure.”

“If the heart rhythm remains irregular, there is a technique called an electric cardioversion that we perform in hospital under a general anaesthetic. This is a technique where we stop the heart momentarily with an electrical current so that the electrical settings in the heart return to normal.”

“The good news is that if we are able to manage atrial fibrillation, the majority of the people experience a normal quality of life.”

Dr Kit Wong has been practicing medicine for over 30 years and is a Director of the Queensland Cardiovascular Group. Dr Wong holds particular clinical interests in all aspects of heart disease, and is able to offer investigations such as echocardiography, exercise stress echocardiography, and coronary angiography.

Buderim Private Hospital’s ‘Care to Share’ video series launched in 2017 and features relevant medical education from the hospital’s highly experienced doctors and clinicians.

Buderim Private Hospital has been serving the Sunshine Coast community since 1980 and is part of UnitingCare, which is the health and community service provider of the Uniting Church that supports thousands of people every day of the year through its well-known and respected services, including Blue Care and Lifeline.