BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — September is National Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) Awareness Month, and local experts are raising awareness about the importance of health screenings and paying attention to your body.

Health experts say it is estimated that over 12 million people in the U.S. will have AFib in 2030.

AFib is an irregular heartbeat or a condition in which the heart muscles fail to contract in a strong, rhythmic way. When a heart is in AFib, it may not be pumping enough oxygen-rich blood out to the body. 

Symptoms can include fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain, palpitations, dizziness or lightheadedness.

“It’s extremely common, so that means we are better at treatment,” said Dr. Thomas Cawthon, an interventional cardiologist at Ascension St. Vincent’s. “We are still not great, but we are better at it. There’s medicines out there that can help with treatment. … And one thing that’s real important is that we prevent strokes. 

“One of the things that AFib can cause is stroke and so we put people on blood thinners almost immediately and they qualify to prevent another one from happening or to prevent a stroke altogether.”

National Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month was declared by the U.S. Senate in 2009 after it realized the need to increase accessible education about the condition.

For more details, visit Ascension’s website here.