Atrial fibrillation is the most common form of cardiac arrhythmia or cardiac arrhythmia. A cardiac arrhythmia can cause the heart to beat irregularly, too fast or too slow.
1. How it is caused
Atrial fibrillation is an arrhythmia caused by the heart’s upper chambers (atria) beating too fast and irregularly and out of sync with the two lower chambers (ventricles).
2. Electrical problem
Doctors sometimes describe heart problems as either “hydraulic problems” or “electrical problems.” Atrial fibrillation is an electrical problem. With each heartbeat, an electrical signal is transmitted from the top of the heart down. As the signal propagates, it causes the heart to contract and pump blood. In atrial fibrillation, random electrical signals disrupt the heart’s normal blood pumping pattern.
3. Signs and symptoms of atrial fibrillation
Signs of atrial fibrillation include an irregular and fast heartbeat, feeling like your heart is pounding, dizziness, sweating and chest pain or pressure, shortness of breath or anxiety, fatigue when exercising, and fainting. Some people do not experience any symptoms of atrial fibrillation.
4. Who Gets Atrial Fibrillation?
The risk of atrial fibrillation increases with age. The median age for men to develop atrial fibrillation is 66 years. For women it is about 74 years.
5. The dangers of atrial fibrillation
The two most important risks associated with atrial fibrillation are stroke and heart failure. Atrial fibrillation increases the risk of ischemic stroke fivefold. In fact, atrial fibrillation is known to be the cause of 15-20% of ischemic strokes. Measures to reduce the risk of stroke are one of the primary goals of treatment.
6. The goals of treatment
The goals of treating atrial fibrillation include reducing the risk of stroke by preventing blood clots from forming, slowing the heart rate, and restoring a normal rhythm. If there are underlying conditions that contribute to atrial fibrillation, treating those problems is also part of treatment.
7. Anti-atrial fibrillation drugs
Various types of drugs are commonly used to treat atrial fibrillation. Anticoagulants are used to prevent blood clots from forming, thereby reducing the risk of stroke. Medications such as beta blockers and calcium channel blockers may be prescribed to restore a normal heart rhythm. However, other medications can be taken to bring the heart back to a normal rhythm. Different medications work better for some people than others. Your doctor will work with you to find the best combination of treatments.
8. Methods of treating atrial fibrillation
If medication isn’t enough to get the heart back into rhythm, there are a variety of procedures you can try. In retroversion, low-energy shocks administered to your heart can induce a normal rhythm. You sleep temporarily before receiving the shocks, and the shocks are not painful. An ablation catheter can also be used to restore a normal heart rhythm.
9. Safe living with atrial fibrillation
To live safely with atrial fibrillation and reduce your risk of stroke, you should exercise regularly. If you are tired, start slowly and gradually increase the intensity of the exercise. Eat heart healthy. Diet and exercise help you maintain your weight, which benefits your overall heart health. Avoid excessive amounts of alcohol and caffeine as these can cause atrial fibrillation. Treat high blood pressure and cholesterol. If you are a smoker, quit the habit.
10. Be an active patient
Continuous medical care is important for people with atrial fibrillation. Don’t miss an appointment. Keep a list of all medications you take and bring it with you to all doctor visits. Follow your doctor’s instructions for taking all of your medications. If you are taking anticoagulants, you should monitor your blood regularly. Finally, talk to your doctor about your diet. Certain foods can interfere with the effectiveness of anticoagulant medications.