Atrial fibrillation (AF or A-fib) commonly known as cardiac arrhythmia refers to a condition which is characterized by irregular and in some cases rapid heart rate. Normally there are no predominant symptoms or indications associated with this disease however sometimes people suffering from this disease often experience palpitations , chest pains , fainting , congestive heart failure.
This condition often leads to an increased risk of stroke by up to seven to eight times that of the normal people. This is further enhanced if the person in question is suffering from other conditions like high blood pressure. This condition can be confirmed through an electrocardiogram which will show that P waves are not present and also an irregular ventricular rate.
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This also leads to a poor flow of blood into the heart. In this condition the atria shows irregular , chaotic beats and is out of rhythm with the beats from the lower chambers of the heart also known as ventricles.
This disease normally does not linger. It shows up and then goes away and comes back again from time to time. This disease is by no means life threatening by itself. However it can sometimes lead to a critical situation which will require emergency treatment. In some extreme cases it can also lead to complications. The basic treatments of this disease are medications and other methods aimed at playing with the hearts electrical system. The following sections will give you in depth details about this disease.
Causes behind atrial fibrillation
Though irregularities of some kinds, wound at the structure of our hearts are usually a common reason for atrial fibrillation, but there are some other causes too.
- Abnormalities at heart valves
- Metabolic instability or a hyper active thyroid gland
- High blood pressure/hypertension
- Some earlier heart surgery
- Heart attack
- Born with a heart ailment
- Sleep apnea
- Too much exposure to alcohol or caffeine or even in some of medications
- Viral infection
- Having blood clot in lungs
- Some lung ailments
- Left ventricular hypertrophy
- People living under a lot of stress can suffer from this condition.
- Coronary artery or heart ailments
- Older person or people above 40 belong to the high risk category.
Sometimes people develop this problem without having any heart ailments or defects. Such a condition is known as lone atrial fibrillation. In such cases people usually don’t develop any serious kind of symptoms & the cause behind this is not very clear till date.
Some Indications Are
Though a heart with atrial fibrillation doesn’t beat in a normal way, but sometimes people don’t usually experience any kind of symptoms till they go through some medical examinations. Some indications that people may feel are as follows:
- Uncompensated congestive heart failure (CHF); experiencing shortness of breaths
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Ischemia/ angina
- Excessively low blood pressure
- People may experience palpitation which in turn leads to irregular heartbeat, uncomfortable feeling etc.
Atrial fibrillation could be chronic or even occasional.
Your heart rhythm will always be irregular for chronic atrial fibrillation.
In such a situation indications will appear for a few second or even for an hour & then disappear. Such a situation is known as paroxysmal.
Treating Atrial Fibrillation
The aim of these treatments is to get a control over heart rate as well as reconstructing sinus rhythm, lowering the possibilities of stroke & averting blood clots. Some of the available options are surgery as well as medications, lifestyle changes etc. Usually by depending on your indications as well as hearing the rhythm professionals recommend the suitable treatments for you.
Some Medications Are
Medications for atrial fibrillation can include antiarrhythmic drugs (keep the normal sinus rhythm) & various other rhythm control medication, such as dofetilide, procainamide, propafenone, flecainide etc.
Medications for Rate Control
These medications (calcium channel blockers, digoxin etc.) help to lower the heart rate at the time of atrial fibrillation. Though it’s able to avert ventricles from beating heavily fast but it’s not able to keep its control over rhythm of the heart.
Antiplatelet Therapy Medications
Though it’s able to lower the chances of blood clotting as well as stroke, but it’s not able to demolish the risk factor completely. To follow the improvements frequent blood tests (as advised by your doctor) need to be done.
Changes in lifestyle
In addition to medications you can also do something on your own. With some minimum lifestyle changes you can easily make noticeable differences.
- Quit smoking as soon as you can.
- Get the diet which includes heart healthy ingredients.
- Boost up your physical workout.
- To keep your blood pressure under control, try to have as much less salt as possible for you.
- Avoid having too much alcohol.
Surgery might be the ultimate option to go for, when other options fail to work. However there are professionals who can guide you properly about the surgery or its requirements.