Overview of Atrial Fibrillation – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

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 Overview of Atrial Fibrillation – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heart rhythm which can interrupt the normal flow of blood in the body and increase the risk of blood clots and stroke. It is the most common clinical arrhythmia worldwide and it is most prevalent in older adults. But, it can occur at younger ages as well. There is effective treatment available for Atrial Fibrillation at some of the best cardiology hospitals in Hyderabad.

What Is Atrial Fibrillation?

In people with Atrial Fibrillation, unequal electrical impulses makes the left and right upper chambers to twitch. This is called fibrillation which will make atria to beat unusually, thereby altering blood flow to the ventricles. Identifying and treating it early on in its development can certainly improve the chance of preventing further complications.

Types of Atrial Fibrillation

There are three main types of atrial fibrillation such as paroxysmal, persistent and long-term persistent atrial fibrillation. The types depend on how often atrial fibrillation occurs and how it responds to treatment.

1. Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation

In this type of Atrial Fibrillation, you may experience a paroxysm of atrial fibrillation. It may pass without symptoms, or you may even feel it strongly. It usually stops in less than 24 hours and can happen repeatedly.

2. Persistent Atrial Fibrillation

It is a medical condition in which the abnormal heart rhythm lasts for more than a week. It may eventually stop on its own but probably will need treatment.

3. Long-Term Persistent Atrial Fibrillation

Due to this type of atrial fibrillation condition, the abnormal heart rhythms last for more than a year without going away.

Atrial Fibrillation Symptoms 

Atrial Fibrillation Symptoms 

The symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation may only occur intermittently. In most cases, the heart rate is higher than usual with A-fib. But, a person’s heart rate will depend on the frequency of the signals experienced by the atria. And how quickly they are carried to the ventricle.

Some Common Signs And Symptoms Include 

  • Palpitations or the feeling of an irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of Breath, particularly during exercise or activity,
  • Chest pain, pressure, or discomfort
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Uneasiness

If a person does not experience any symptoms and there is a lack of treatment, it may lead to eventual complications, such as a stroke or heart failure. A person with this disorder should pay attention to when their symptoms occur or change in severity.

Causes Of Atrial Fibrillation Symptoms 

There are many causes of Atrial Fibrillation such as:-

  • Age: The more older a person is, the higher their risk of A-fib becomes.
  • Hypertension: Long-term high blood pressure can possibly add strain to the heart. And, thus, increase the risk of A-fib.
  • Pulmonary Embolism: You may note that a blood clot in the lung may increase the risk of a person developing A-fib.
  • Heart Disease: People suffering from heart conditions may have a higher risk of A-fib. These medical  conditions include heart valve disease, heart failure, coronary artery disease and a previous heart attack.
  • Heavy Alcohol Consumption: Excessive alcohol consumption can enhance a person’s risk of developing Atrial Fibrillation.

Other than the causes mentioned above, some of the other causes are people with a family history of A-fib are more likely to experience this medical condition themselves. People with sleep apnea condition, especially when it is severe, have a higher risk of developing A-fib.

Atrial Fibrillation Complications 

Here mentioned are some of the crucial complications of Atrial Fibrillation:-

1. Blood Clots

The heart may not be able to pump the blood out properly due to Atrial Fibrillation causing it to pool and form an abnormal blood clot in the heart. A piece of the clot can break off and travel through the blood to different parts of the body. Thus, blocking blood flow to the brain, lungs, intestine, spleen, or kidneys.

2. Cognitive Impairment And Dementia 

According to some studies, Alzheimer’s disease, and vascular dementia occur more often among people with atrial fibrillation. This happens due to blockages in the blood vessels of the brain or reduced blood flow to the brain.

3. Heart Attack 

The risk of a heart attack from atrial fibrillation is highest among women and atrial fibrillation raises your risk of heart failure because the heart is beating fast and unevenly.

4. Stroke 

If you are suffering from atrial fibrillation, the risk of a stroke is higher if you are a woman.

5. Sudden Cardiac Arrest 

There is an increased risk that the heart may suddenly and unexpectedly stop beating if you have another serious heart condition.

Diagnosis

A doctor may order several tests to diagnose Atrial Fibrillation. These Tests may include:-

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) -This quick and painless test measures the electrical activity of the heart.
  • Blood Tests – This test help to rule out thyroid problems or detect other substances in the blood that may lead to A-fib.
  • Holter Monitor – This small, portable ECG device is carried in a pocket. It helps record the heart’s activity continuously for 24 hours or longer.
  • Event Recorder – This device is similar to a Holter monitor, but it records only at certain times for a few minutes at a time.

When Should You Go To The Doctor With Afib?

AFib episodes rarely cause serious problems. But, but they will need to get checked out. If they’re uncomfortable or the heart is beating rapidly, you may need to go to an emergency room. Doctors may use medications or a device called a cardioverter to help their heart go back to a normal rhythm.

Atrial Fibrillation Treatment

Atrial Fibrillation Treatment

The treatment of Atrial Fibrillation aims to improve symptoms and reduce the risk of complications. The medical professionals will assess a person’s symptoms to develop a comprehensive treatment plan.

Treatment Procedure May Involve The Following:-

1. Medications

To control a person’s heart rate. Also, prevent clots from forming, and normalize heart rhythm.

2. Managing Heart Rate

If the heart rate is high, it is essential to lower it to prevent heart failure and minimize the symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation.

Prevention

Not all cases of atrial fibrillation can be prevented. However, by taking steps to avoid coronary artery disease or high blood pressure, you can help avoid development of A-fib. The basics include:-

  • Not smoking and following a heart-healthy Mediterranean-style diet
  • Being physically active and keeping to a normal weight

To know more about Atrial Fibrillation, you must reach out to the best cardiologist or heart doctor near by.

 

FAQs

1. What Is The Most Common Treatment For Atrial Fibrillation?

The most common way to treat atrial fibrillation is with drugs that control your heartbeat.

2. How Do I Stop Worrying About Atrial Fibrillation?

Yoga, meditation, and exercising are all good ways to decrease stress. We know that stress can trigger an episode. Therefore, avoiding obvious, known triggers is a smart Afib coping strategy.

3. What Can Trigger Atrial Fibrillation?

Certain situations can trigger an episode of atrial fibrillation, including:

  • Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, particularly binge drinking.
  • Being overweight (read about how to lose weight)
  • Drinking lots of caffeine, such as tea, coffee or energy drinks.
  • Taking illegal drugs, particularly amphetamines or cocaine.

4. What Is The Life Expectancy Of A Person With Afib?

For patients aged between 55-74 years, the 10 year mortality was 61.5% in men with AF compared to 30% in men without AF. Amongst women in a similar age group, the 10 year mortality was 57.6% in the AF group versus 20.9% in women without AF.

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