What is Atrial Fibrillation?

 Atrial Fibrillation

What is Atrial Fibrillation? What is AFib? Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) is the most common type of heart arrhythmia.Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is the most common type of heart arrhythmia, affecting millions of people worldwide.  Unlike a healthy heart, in AFib the Sinoatrial node (SA) is unable to control the electrical impulses that regulate the rhythm and synchronicity of the heart. Rather, these impulses are chaotic – often firing from more than one place – and result in rapid and arrhythmic contraction of the atria and ventricles. This in turn creates ineffective movement of blood through the heart and body.

What are the symptoms of atrial fibrillation or AFib?

Symptoms of atrial fibrillation can include dizziness, fainting, chest pain, exhaustion, shortness of breath, palpitations, weakness, and confusion. The condition can be short-lived (paroxysmal) or chronic. If left untreated, Atrial Fibrillation can result in blood clots, stroke, chronic heart failure, or even death.

According to the National Institutes of Health, the risk of atrial fibrillation increases with age and gender, with men over 75 years old being the most likely to develop the condition. However, over half of all individuals with AFib are under 75[1].  A number of risk factors are involved, including those that indirectly affect the heart, such as: chronic stress, obesity, diabetes, excess alcohol intake, metabolic syndrome, high-dose steroid therapies, and lung disease.  Atrial fibrillation is most common in individuals with underlying heart conditions, such as:

  • Heart defects
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Structural heart defects, such as valve prolapse
  • Chronic Disease
  • Coronary Artery Disease
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Heart Failure
  • Heart Disease
  • Rheumatic heart disease
  • Pericarditis
  • Sick sinus syndrome
  • Trauma to the Heart
  • Heart attacks
  • Heart surgery

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