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What Does AFib Do to Blood Pressure?

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AFib and blood pressure

If you’ve ever had atrial fibrillation (AFib), you’re no stranger to the sensation of your heart dancing to its own rhythm. With a fluttering feeling in your chest, you may wonder if your heart can effectively supply blood to the rest of your body.

The way AFib affects blood pressure can be as unique as the individual experiencing it. While some maintain a steady blood pressure even during an AFib episode, many notice a drop in blood pressure during the arrhythmia. Still, for some, blood pressure may unexpectedly rise.

Understanding heart rate and blood pressure

Each time you visit the doctor’s office, you’ve probably had your blood pressure and heart rate checked, but do you really know what these numbers mean or how they are related?

Blood pressure and heart rate are closely connected within the body’s blood circulation system.

  • Heart rate: Heart rate measures the number of times the heart contracts in a minute, measured in beats per minute (BPM).
  • Blood pressure: Blood pressure is a measurement of how hard the heart must work to circulate blood throughout the body. It measures the force of blood pushing against the blood vessels, recorded in millimeters of mercury (mmHg).

Cardiac output, the amount of blood our hearts pump each minute, is vital in linking heart rate and blood pressure. However, while the two are connected, blood pressure and heart rate don’t always rise and fall in sync. In fact, a rising heart rate may cause blood pressure to drop, which is often the case with atrial fibrillation.

Does atrial fibrillation impact blood pressure?

Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a type of irregular heartbeat where the upper chambers of the heart (atria) beat chaotically and out of sync with the lower chambers (ventricles). AFib significantly impacts the relationship between heart rate and blood pressure.

During AFib, the atria fail to contract and relax properly, reducing the heart’s pumping efficiency. As a result, the heart may be unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs, leading to a decrease in cardiac output and lower blood pressure. Consequently, many people experiencing an acute AFib episode have low blood pressure (hypotension).

Often, as the body tries to compensate for the lowered blood pressure, it increases the heart rate more, causing it to become even more rapid and irregular. This compensatory response often creates a challenging cycle for individuals with AFib.

However, not everyone experiences a drop in blood pressure during an AFib episode. Sometimes, the body attempts to compensate for the decreased cardiac output by constricting blood vessels. Unfortunately, these adjustments can lead to higher blood pressure (hypertension) during an AFib episode.

High blood pressure as a risk factor for AFib

How the body responds during an acute AFib attack varies depending on the individual. However, it’s important to note that high blood pressure is a significant risk factor for atrial fibrillation. Studies show that up to 80 percent of individuals with AFib have underlying hypertension.

High blood pressure causes strain on the heart and blood vessels, which may lead to structural changes in the heart over time. For example, scar tissue, thickening of the heart muscle, and enlargement of the heart’s chambers can disrupt the electrical pathways, potentially leading to AFib.

Next Steps

Our bodies tend to respond far better to preventive health initiatives than to attempts at course correction once illness has taken hold. Reversing the tide of ill health can be an uphill battle, but rest assured, it’s never beyond reach.

For those grappling with high blood pressure or atrial fibrillation, an array of tangible steps awaits to help address the issue, such as embracing NHD’s holistic “Eat Well, Live Well, Think Well” blueprint. To explore your options further, consider a complimentary 20-minute health strategy session with one of our seasoned health coaches.

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About Dr. Keith Smigiel NP, DC

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Dr. Keith Smigiel is a regenerative medicine physician and pain management specialist. He takes an integrative approach to medicine, focusing on customized solutions tailored to individual needs. Using advanced, non-surgical treatments, Dr. Smigiel stimulates your body’s ability to naturally heal itself.

Dr. Smigiel helps people suffering from conditions such as chronic pain and erectile dysfunction, to hair loss and weight gain. Combining treatments such as PRP Therapy, Ozone, Neural Prolotherapy, and IV Infusions with functional rehabilitation, he helps you look and feel better.

He heals the body, instead of just treating the symptoms!

With his professional qualifications as a certified family nurse practitioner, a doctor of chiropractic, and a fellow of the International Academy of Medical Acupuncture, Dr. Smigiel offers patients comprehensive care from a broad perspective of conventional and alternative medicine. He also has extensive experience in functional rehabilitation and chronic pain management.

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About Dr. James Kneller, M.D., Ph.D., FHRS

Dr. James Kneller, M.D., Ph.D., FHRS

Dr. James Kneller is one of the nation’s leading heart rhythm specialists. Dr. Kneller is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) in Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology, Cardiovascular Disease, and Internal Medicine.

As a Fellow of the Heart Rhythm Society (FHRS) and Certified Cardiac Device Specialist (CCDS), Kneller provides comprehensive patient care, combining best medical practice with invasive procedures using state-of-the-art technologies to treat heart rhythm disorders.

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About Dr. Lauren Lattanza NMD, FACC

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As a Naturopathic Physician, I am trained to treat the whole person and get to the root cause of disease.

I went to Arizona State University where I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a depth in physiology and minor in Spanish. After my undergraduate degree I was working on prerequisite classes towards medical school, which is when I came to learn that my values identified best with the principles of naturopathic medicine. I knew that I wanted to help patients identify the causes of disease and be able to offer treatments which would improve their health rather than simply treating symptoms.

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As a Spanish speaking student, I was able to volunteer with community clinics around Phoenix and provide free healthcare to low-income families. Due to this combined exposure, I came to find my passion in treating cardiometabolic and digestive disorders that are all too common, yet largely preventable. I took the opportunity to learn the broad spectrum of healthcare so I can ensure that I am able to provide my patients with the best options.

About Dr. Jack Wolfson DO, FACC

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Dr. Jack Wolfson is a board-certified cardiologist, Amazon best-selling author, husband, father, and the nation’s #1 Natural Heart Doctor.

For more than two decades, more than one million people have enjoyed the warmth, compassion, and transformational power of his natural heart health courses and events.

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Chiropractic

Our chiropractor is an expert at adjustments and holistic chiropractic care and works closely in conjunction with the other health care experts at Natural Heart Doctor.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

IV Therapy

We use specially formulated natural vitamins and minerals that are injected into a vein to prevent or treat dehydration. Ideal for people in Arizona.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Acupuncture

Stimulate your body’s natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being with acupuncture at Natural Heart Doctor.

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Health Coaching

Our health coaches use evidence based skillful conversation, clinical interventions, and strategies to engage you actively and safely in health behavior changes.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Cardio Tests

We use the most advanced testing in the world to assess heart health and to identify the root cause of your health issues.

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Office Visits

Schedule an office visit with one of our cardiologists, holistic physicians, chiropractor, or health coaches.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Frequently Asked Questions

I’d like to receive an online second opinion from Natural Heart Doctor. What do I do next?

You can initiate a second opinion online through our website at any time. To begin, select the team member you’d like to speak with and open an account.

Click here for cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson.

Naturopathic Medical Doctor Dr. Lauren Lattanza. Get details.

Naturopathic Medical Doctor Dr. Tonia Rainier. Get details.

Click here for  Natural Heart Doctor Health Coach.

Alternatively, you can email health@naturalheartdoctor.com. A member of our care team will help guide you through the process of starting a second opinion.

What is the cost of a Natural Heart Doctor Online Second Opinion?

The cost for most second opinions varies by team member. This fee includes information collection, a phone or video consultation, a second opinion from a Natural Heart Doctor specialist and guidance throughout the process from your personal Care Team at Natural Heart Doctor.

Cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson’s Second Opinion Fee is $1500.

Holistic Physician’s Dr. Lauren Lattanza’s Second Opinion Fee is $250.

Naturopathic Physician Dr. Tonia Rainier’s Second Opinion Fee is $250.

Note: We apply the Online Second Opinion Call fee as a credit to any future consultations with Natural Heart Doctor, should you choose them.

Will my insurance cover the cost of a Natural Heart Doctor Online Second Opinion?

Most likely, no. Most health plans do not cover online second opinions or consultations. You are responsible for the cost of our second opinion. Natural Heart Doctor cannot file a claim with your insurance carrier, nor can we provide a procedure (CPT) code for this service.

What is the timeline to receive an online second opinion?

We do our best to schedule your second opinion as quickly as possible. Typically, it takes 5 to 7 business days after your information has been collected to receive your phone or video online second opinion.

What information do you need in advance of our call?

Our office will send you a short questionnaire to complete and return. We DO NOT need your complete medical records.

How many questions can I ask the expert during our call?

You may ask a maximum of five questions. This is to ensure that the expert has sufficient time to devote to each question. All questions must be finalized before your online meeting.

What should I expect to receive once my second opinion is complete?

You will receive a summary of our discussion along with our second opinion. The second opinion will be in written form. After you have reviewed the second opinion, a Natural Heart Doctor clinician will follow up with you by phone to address general medical questions about the information provided in the second opinion.

What if I have follow-up questions for the expert after I have reviewed my second opinion?

If you have a clarifying question about an expert’s response to one of the questions in your second opinion, and the Natural Heart Doctor clinician is unable to address it, then you may request a follow up session for an additional fee. 

Is my medical and payment information secure?

Natural Heart Doctor is strongly committed to protecting the privacy and security of all our patients. Our website meets all federal requirements for protecting personal health information under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). All financial transactions are processed by Natural Heart Doctor securely using industry standard payment processing tools.

I would rather visit Natural Heart Doctor for an in-person appointment. What should I do next?

If you would prefer an in-person appointment at Natural Heart Doctor instead of an online second opinion, please call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Can I schedule a follow up appointment with the specialist who provided my online second opinion?

Yes, we’re happy to help you on an extended basis. Our clinician can discuss options with you when presenting our second opinion summary.