“Too Young To Be This Tired” Physicians Encourage People to Learn the Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation

Lisa Whynot-Huey may be 61 years-old, but she says she’s a young 61 years-old. That’s why it was so frustrating when she found herself getting exhausted in the afternoons, unable to breathe.

“I felt terrible. I was home in bed by one o’clock in the afternoon because I was so tired,” she remembered.

In 2016, Whynot-Huey was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, a type of irregular heartbeat often referred to as ‘AFib.’ The American Heart Association (AHA) says common symptoms include heart palpitations, shortness of breath and weakness. If left untreated, the AHA says it can lead to blood clots, stroke, and heart failure.

After attempting to control the condition through medication, Whynot-Huey was referred to Sunil Reddy, M.D., a cardiac electrophysiologist affiliated with Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital and assistant professor at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth.

“Atrial fibrillation is a very common condition that can often be controlled through medication. However, there are a variety of reasons, including failing to respond well to medication, that can make a person a good candidate for a procedure called an ablation,” said Dr. Reddy.

During an ablation, the physician inserts a catheter through a vein in the groin to access the abnormal heart tissue causing the irregular heartbeat. Utilizing radiofrequency energy, the physician destroys the abnormal heart tissue, enabling the heart to return to a normal rhythm. Dr. Reddy says patients usually only need to stay in the hospital for one night after undergoing the minimally invasive procedure.

“After the procedure, most patients can ultimately come off many of their AFib medications further improving their lifestyle,” added Dr. Reddy.

Whynot-Huey underwent the ablation in January and says she is feeling great. “I’m perfect! It was a horrible experience going through that for two years. I like to shop, and the AFib was really putting a damper on my lifestyle. Not anymore!” said Whynot-Huey.

“Afib is commonly mistaken for a lung issue, another heart issue, or even anxiety or panic attacks. If you find yourself experiencing palpitations, shortness of breath and fatigue, go to a cardiologist and get checked out. There is a wide variety of treatment options, both medical and surgical, to help get an irregular heartbeat back into normal rhythm,” said Dr. Reddy.

Memorial Hermann has a team of world-class affiliated electrophysiologists, cardiologists, cardiovascular surgeons, and clinicians utilizing innovative techniques to treat a range of heart and vascular problems.

For more information, visit heart.memorialhermann.org.