Atrial Fibrillation

What is atrial fibrillation?
irregular heart rhythm originating from the heart's two upper chambers (right and left atria).
The atria send out disorganized electrical impulses that cause it to quiver, or fibrillate.
 
What causes atrial fibrillation? Atrial Fibrillation
Blockage in the arteries that supply blood to the heart (coronary artery disease)
High blood pressure
Mitral valve disease
Overactive thyroid gland
Heart attack
Excessive consumption or binge drinking alcohol
 
What are the symptoms?
Dizziness or faint
Shortness of breath or difficulty
catching a breath
Fatigue or weakness
Chest pain
Feeling the heart beat pounding irregularly or rapidly
Some people may not feel anything at all
 
What are some complications that can occur?
Chronic fatigue
Heart failure
Stroke. The atria does not pump as strong because of the disorganized electrical impulses, therefore the blood does not completely empty into the bottom chamber of the heart (ventricle). Blood remaining in the left atrium can become stagnant and pool to form a clot. If the clot travels out into the body and into the brain, it can block the artery supplying the brain and cause a stroke.
 
How is atrial fibrillation diagnosed?
Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG): this reveals your heart's rhythm and electrical activity
Echocardiogram: this is an ultrasound of the heart that reveals your heart's pumping function and heart valves' function
 
How is atrial fibrillation treated?
There are many ways to treat atrial fibrillation and the method depends on what you and your doctor agree upon.
Oral medication to regulate the heart rate and rhythm.
In addition, you will need to take blood-thinning medication, such as coumadin or aspirin depending on your condition, to prevent strokes.
You may be recommended to have a cardioversion using medications or using a low-voltage electrical shock to restore normal rhythm.
If cardioversion and medications do not work, you may need to undergo a procedure called ablation. An area of the atrium is destroyed thereby causing scar tissue to develop. The scar tissue will block or destroy the irregular heart rhythm.
Atrial fibrillation can often return despite going through all the treatments.
 
*Please consult your doctor if you have any further questions.