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Healthwise Maui

Q: What is atrial fibrillation?

Dr. Anil Punjabi,cardiologist, Ohana Heart: Atrial fibrillation, or “AFib” in short, is a term that describes an irregular/erratic heartbeat, that is now becoming the leading heart rhythm issue in the American population. The heart uses its electrical system to coordinate the pumping action of the top and bottom chambers of heart, called the atria and ventricles, respectively. However due to risk factors, such as long-standing high blood pressure, sleep apnea, alcohol use, leaky valves, and many more, sometimes the atria can become fast, erratic and/or irregular. The danger of not being diagnosed in time is the lack of appropriate treatment including but not limited to the use of blood thinners. When the heart beats erratically, blood stagnates in the atria and can lead to the formation of blood clots, which can travel to the brain and cause a debilitating stroke. Some patients, who already have other heart related conditions, also run the risk of feeling lightheaded and possibly passing out.

Unfortunately, many might not feel any symptoms, and other times others will feel palpitations, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, weakness, fatigue or chest pain. Due to Afib’s variable symptoms, if you have risk factors, feel any of the above-mentioned symptoms, or get a warning from a wearable heart rate monitor, it’s recommended you follow-up with your primary care doctor or your local cardiologist. The diagnosis can be made with a routine electrocardiogram (EKG). However sometimes Afib is transient and requires wearing a multiday wearable medical monitor to make the diagnosis.

If you do have AFib, your doctor will work with you to determine the best course of treatment. Some patients can get away with regular rate controlling medicines with weak blood thinners like aspirin, others might require heavier blood thinners to prevent strokes, and some might require additional procedures to bring the heart back to its regular rhythm. Given its increasing prevalence as well as its high cause of morbidity, it is very important to discuss this with your doctor.

Q: I’m looking for a job on Maui but don’t have a background or education in the medical field. What kind of other positions are available at Maui Memorial Medical Center?

Tara Cole, human resources director, Maui Health System: Maui Health System has many different nonclinical career opportunities available that are located at either Maui Memorial Medical Center or Kula Hospital on Maui. Openings include many other areas of health care like in nutrition services, environmental services, customer service, accounting, administration, marketing and operations. We also have a paid nurse aid training program at Kula Hospital for anyone who is interested in starting a new career in health care. Anyone with a high school diploma or GED may apply and accepted students will be paid for the duration of the six-week training program. Once completed successfully, students will receive a nurse aide certification and the opportunity to work at Kula Hospital full time. The best way to view all job opportunities at Maui Health is to visit our website at www.mauihealthsystem .org and click on the “Careers” tab. You can set up an applicant account and save your resume, education and work experience information in one place, then use that to apply to as many positions as you’d like.

* Physicians, providers and administrative staff who practice at Maui Health System hospitals and clinics answer questions from the public in “Healthwise Maui,” which appears on Thursdays. Maui Health System operates Maui Memorial Medical Center, Maui Memorial Medical Center Outpatient Clinic, Kula Hospital & Clinic and Lana’i Community Hospital and accepts all patients. To submit a question, go to the website at mauihealthsystem.org/contact.