Oklahoma State Trooper Describes Dealing With AFib

Friday, September 28th 2018, 10:57 pm
By: Brian Dorman

September is National Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) Awareness Month, and doctors across Green Country want you to know what to look out for.

Many people don't even know what AFib means, including an Oklahoma state trooper that has been dealing with it for much of his life.

Trooper Rick Humdy was making a career move from the Oklahoma National Guard to the police force when he first learned he had AFib - a condition that started to slow him down, and, left untreated, could even cause a deadly stroke.

"I had talked to some nurses and they told me something about AFib, whatever that is," Humdy said.

Like many patients, Humdy blew off his diagnoses, but when he started to experience symptoms, he knew it was a problem.

"I couldn't walk 100 feet. And, I would be in bed and I would be huffing and puffing, and at night I would be in bed and I couldn't lay on my back, I would be struggling to breathe," he said.

Humdy's physician Dr. David Sandler explains the effect AFib has on the heart.

"Instead of squeezing at 60 beats a minute they, start quivering, and that can cause a lot of problems for people," Sandler said. “When the blood is not being moved out of the atrium, it stagnates, doesn't move and becomes a clot. It leads to stroke."

Sandler said some patients can be treated with medicine that thins the blood, which wasn't an option for Humdy. 

"Being a state trooper or police, you might get shot, or you might be in a car wreck, and I might bleed out before I get to the hospital," Humdy said.

Humdy had a procedure to destroy tissue that allowed for incorrect electrical signals in the heart - a procedure that may have prevented a stroke.

"Who knows they're going to have a stroke the day before they have a stroke? So, it's really important for those with AFIB to get it detected," Sandler said.

"You really need to get to the doctor and find out what's wrong with you before it gets really too late for you," Humdy said.

So how can you tell if you have AFIB? An annual exam is encouraged if you're 65 or older. When you have your blood pressure checked there's a light for an irregular heartbeat, and the newest Apple Watch can detect AFIB.