A Heart Attack, Atrial Fibrillation or PAC?

Updated:May 4,2011

Peter Culver PortraitLearning the difference can bring peace of mind!
Peter Culver began to notice fluttering sensations in his chest, especially when he was lying down at night just before falling asleep.  Fearing he was on the verge of a heart attack, he made an appointment with his physician right away.

Peter only noticed the flutterings when his body was still, but his doctor listened to Peter’s heart rhythm and heard what’s called a PAC (premature atrial contraction). A PAC is a benign type of irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia) that occurs in the heart’s upper chambers (atria). It can feel like atrial fibrillation, but it’s less threatening and doesn’t increase the risk for stroke. It was occurring even when Peter couldn’t feel it.

An Important Discovery
Peter was relieved to hear that the flutterings didn’t mean he was about to have a heart attack. Still, he didn’t have a completely clear bill of health.  “It’s a good thing you’ve come in,” Peter’s doctor told him, “because what I’m actually more concerned about is your high blood pressure.” 

One of every three Americans has high blood pressure and, like Peter, many don’t know they have it.

Self-Responsibility is Key
Today Peter gets regular checkups with his doctor and takes responsibility for his health rather than relying on his wife or someone else. “Taking my blood pressure medication regularly gives me peace of mind,” he said. I also feel like I’m doing everything I can to live a healthy and responsible life. Taking good care of my health gives my wife peace of mind too.”

Find a Way to Make It Work!
Peter keeps his medications in a weekly organizing container and takes his prescription every day at the same time. That way, he knows exactly when he took it and how many he has left. He tracks when it’s time to pick up his next prescription and makes sure he never runs out of pills.  “It’s just a part of life now,” Peter says.

If you’ve been prescribed a medication for atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure, arrhythmia or any other heart-health condition, make sure to take your med exactly as prescribed. Do what you need to do to keep prescriptions filled and track your adherence.  Taking responsibility yourself will help you live a longer, healthier life.

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