Millions of Americans suffer from undiagnosed atrial fibrillation

WATCH: Millions of Americans are walking time bombs suffering from undiagnosed atrial fibrillation

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Millions of Americans are walking time bombs suffering from undiagnosed atrial fibrillation.

It’s a heart condition sometimes triggered by COVID.

“The hardest part is getting off the sofa," AFib patient Donny Scallions told FOX13. "A lot of people think how do you run a marathon? But it’s really easy.”

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Scallions has a passion for running. It’s a love that led to saving his life.

“Me and my brother are avid runners. We compete against each other and everything. And one year he got me a heart rate monitor,” said Scallions.

Scallions said he was surprised when he saw his heart rate abnormally high back in 2017.

“I had no symptoms whatsoever. But I was getting heart rates that spiked up to 250. Which is excessively high,” said Scallions.

Shortly after, Scallion was diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation or AFib, an irregular, often rapid heart rate that commonly causes poor blood flow.

“The common symptoms, shortness of breath, palpitations, chest pains, passing out spells,” said Scallions.

When untreated, AFib may lead to heart failure and increases a person’s chance of stroke by 500 percent.

Annually AFib affects up to eight million people, but those numbers have skyrocketed because COVID-19 triggers the condition.

“These are the patients who are more likely to be hospitalized, more likely to be in ICU,” said Dr. Rajesh Kabra with Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare.

The good news is there is a way to manage AFib. Several ways, including a one-day ablation procedure.

“This procedure targets areas in the heart called pulmonary veins. We isolate these veins, so they don’t cause AFib,” said Kabra.

It’s a procedure that kicked started Scallions' recovery and got him back in the race.

“I was able to recover from this very quickly and I’m glad I had this,” said Scallions.

Data shows cardiovascular disease and strokes are the number one cause of death in Shelby County. So, If you experience any of the symptoms described, reach out to a doctor.