New atrial fibrillation clinic opens at EIRMC

Health & Fitness

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Mike Price, EastIdahoNews.com

IDAHO FALLS — Patients with atrial fibrillation now have a new option for care in east Idaho.

Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center held an open house Thursday evening to show off a new clinic that will help patients recently diagnosed with the condition and those who need ongoing treatment.

According to the Heart Rhythm Society, AF is a type of abnormal heart rhythm or arrhythmia. It occurs when electrical signals that cause the heart to beat cause the upper two chambers of the heart, the atria, to “quiver.” This quivering is known as fibrillation.

“We brought about this clinic because we saw a huge need in the community, especially when we go to discharge our patients who were newly diagnosed with atrial fibrillation or had a history of atrial fibrillation and they didn’t have anyone to manage it,” Brandi Smith, a nurse practitioner, told EastIdahoNews.com

The clinic is located in EIRMC’s Medical Office Building. It is run by a nurse practitioner, pharmacist, two registered nurses, a lab professional and a dietitian.

According to the Heart Rhythm Society, nine out of every 100 people over 65 have AF. It is most common in people over the age of 60 but it is possible for younger people to develop it as well.

Atrial fibrillation clinic lab. | Mike Price, EastIdahoNews.com

“A-fib is known as a progressive disease so it’s not something we can cure,” Smith said. “The most important thing is to manage it and to manage it well so the quality of life for the people is improved.”

The clinic offers a fully functioning lab that allows for test results within 30 minutes. It has a pharmacy that collaborates with nurse practitioners and boasts facilities capable of monitoring blood thinners.

Smith said some symptoms people should be aware of are fatigue, a racing heart, an irregular heartbeat, weakness and lightheadedness.

“When they feel that, the most important thing is to check their heart rate by checking their pulse and making sure it’s regular,” Smith said. “If it’s not regular, then they need to see a physician.”

While AF itself is not life-threatening, it’s side effects can be if left untreated.

“No management or rate control of atrial fibrillation can cause people to go into congestive heart failure,” Smith said. “When not managed correctly, the patient can have actually five times the risk of having a stroke.”

AF can be managed through medication and blood thinners, cardioversion or shocking the heart back into rhythm as well as a variety of other treatment options.