Atrial Fibrillation Alters the Rhythm Of Your Heart

The heart has a specific function. It pumps blood throughout the body which carries the oxygen needed for functioning. The heart is arguably the most important part of the body. However, it can also be fragile. There are many ways in which a person’s heart can become damaged. One of these is irregular or rapid heartbeats. The common name for this is Atrial Fibrillation (AFib). 

People who suffer from atrial fibrillation will not get the steady repetitive rhythm that most hearts run by. There are four chambers within the heart. With atrial fibrillation, the two atria (upper chambers) receive chaotic signals to beat. This puts them out of sync and out of repetition with the two ventricles (lower chambers). Heartbeats become irregular and rapid. Complications from AFib can be dangerous and potentially fatal. Recognizing AFib early can help with management and treatment. 

Causes of Atrial Fibrillation

There are actually quite a number of potential causes of atrial fibrillation. It is typically an issue with the atrioventricular node between atria and ventricles. It receives too many abnormal impulses. Not all get through and cause the slow beating. Most of the causes of AFib related to the structure of the heart. These can be abnormalities or damage to the heart caused from something else. Some of the causes include: 

  • Heart Attacks
  • Anormal Heart Valves
  • Congenital Heart Defects
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Stimulant Medications
  • Lung Disease
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Coronary Artery Disease
  • Metabolic Imbalances
  • Sick sinus Syndrome
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Infections
  • Stress Due to Illness
  • Past Heart Surgeries

These are just some of the vast potential causes of atrial fibrillation. However, in some cases known as “lone atrial fibrillation” there’s no clear cause. 

Complications of Atrial Fibrillation

There’s two main complications that can occur for people with atrial fibrillation, but they are big ones. The first is potential heart failure. Essentially, atrial fibrillation weakens the heart until it is no longer capable of pumping enough blood around the body to meet requirements. 

The second main complication is the risk of suffering a stroke. Because the heart is beating in a chaotic pattern, clots can form in the atria. Those clots can easily dislodge and travel to the brain. If it stops proper blood flow to the brain, then the result is a stroke. There are many risk factors that contribute to suffering from a stroke, but suffering from AFib certainly does not help. 

Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation 

An interesting aspect of AFib is that many times, people may not realize that they have it. This is because symptoms don’t always present themselves. Many people can avoid learning they have AFIb until they go in for some other type of physical exam.

In other cases, some symptoms can be felt. These can include heart palpitations, irregular heartbeats, fatigue, feeling weak, an inability to exercise, dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath and lightheadedness. 

Treatment of Atrial Fibrillation

There are two goals of treatment. The first is to prevent blood clots from forming in the heart. This can avoid the potential for them causing a stroke. The other goal is to fix and reset the heart rate to make it more regular. Doctors may choose one of many different treatment methods due to the wide number of potential causes. Treating an underlying cause can often solve the issues with AFib. 

The treatment to reset your heart rhythm is known as cardioversion. The electrical version is just that. It is an electrical shock to the heart administered as a method of stopping it, so that it will start back up in proper rhythm. People who undergo these tend to be sedated so they don’t have to feel it. There are also drugs which can be used to perform a type of cardioversion. They can be orally taken, or through an IV. The heart rate is continuously monitored during the process and if it’s successful, a doctor may prescribe more of the medication for additional episodes. 

Disclaimer: The articles on this website are not meant to encourage the self-management of any health or wellness issue. Nor are they meant to encourage any one type of medical treatment. Treatment or advice used by a reader may have varying results, as each individual is different. Any article reader with a health-related question, is encouraged to seek a proper consultation with a doctor or certified health provider. The articles on this website should not be used to disregard any medical or health-related advice, nor should they be the root cause for delay in seeing a doctor or a certified health provider.

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