Atrial fibrillation is a heart complication caused by an irregular and fast heartbeat. Normally, the heartbeats of the two upper chambers of the heart should be synchronized with the heartbeats of the two lower chambers. In atrial fibrillation, the heartbeats are not synchronized. AFib treatments aim to normalize the heart rate. Treatments may include anti-AFib medications and surgeries, which may include open heart surgery and minimally invasive procedures.
What are the common causes of atrial fibrillation?
- One of the leading causes of atrial fibrillation is a family history of AFib, which can be transmitted through genes.
- Excessive alcohol consumption can also cause atrial fibrillation.
- Heart valve diseases can also cause atrial fibrillation.
- High blood pressure is another cause of atrial fibrillation.
- Viral infections, hyperthyroidism, and metabolic syndrome can also cause AFib.
What are the risk factors for atrial fibrillation?
- Diseases related to the lungs, such as COPD and sleep apnea, are one of the most common risk factors for atrial fibrillation.
- Being diabetic or overweight can also increase the risk of AFib.
- Heart-related conditions such as heart failure, congenital heart problems, cardiomyopathy, coronary artery disease, and valvular heart disease are some other risk factors for AFib.
- People over 60 are more prone to atrial fibrillation.
What are the most common symptoms of atrial fibrillation?
- One of the most common and obvious symptoms of atrial fibrillation is an irregular heartbeat that causes a lot of discomfort.
- Another symptom is a constant feeling of weakness and fatigue.
- The above symptoms include lightheadedness, dizziness, and short periods of confusion.
- There is shortness of breath and chest pain.
- The person tends to sweat profusely.
How is atrial fibrillation diagnosed?
- The initial diagnosis of atrial fibrillation involves a physical examination and a review of the person’s medical history.
- The doctor also monitors the signs and symptoms experienced by the person.
- Tests such as an electrocardiogram are one of the most common and basic tests to diagnose atrial fibrillation.
- Other tests include echocardiogram, chest x-ray and stress tests.
- Blood tests are also recommended to determine if a person has an underactive thyroid or other substances that can lead to atrial fibrillation.
What are the common AFib treatments recommended?
- One of the most common treatments for AFib is to restore the heart’s irregular rhythm.
- Cardiversion is used to reset irregular heartbeats.
- Cardioversion AFib treatments include electrical cardioversion, which involves giving short electrical shocks to the heart with patches and paddles on the chest.
- If cardioversion does not help, one of the most common treatments for AFib is to perform catheter ablation. This treatment involves correcting the heart’s rhythm by inserting long, thin tubes and destroying the cells that cause the heart to palpitate. This is done by delivering radio frequency energy, extreme cold or heat to these cells.
- Labyrinth surgical procedures are another line of treatment for AFib. This involves open-heart surgery and creating a series of scar tissues in the heart with a precise incision.
- Atrioventricular (AV) node ablation is also one of the most common treatments for AFib. In this treatment, radiofrequency energy is delivered through a catheter to a path that connects the lower chamber of the heart to the upper chamber.
What atrial fibrillation drugs do doctors usually prescribe?
- Some common AFib stroke medications include blood thinners called anticoagulants, which prevent blood clots and strokes.
- In addition to electrical cardioversion, there is also another form of cardioversion. This second type uses atrial fibrillation medications called antiarrhythmics that help normalize the heartbeat.
- AFib anti-stroke drugs also help restore an irregular heartbeat.
Are there measures to prevent atrial fibrillation?
- Regular physical activity is essential to avoid obesity and to keep heart rate normal or close to normal.
- The diet should contain little saturated fat, trans fat, salt and cholesterol.
- It is best to completely avoid smoking, alcohol and caffeinated beverages.
- Another important measure to prevent atrial fibrillation is to keep cholesterol and blood pressure under control.