- Causes & 3 Types
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How does atrial fibrillation occur? 3 Types
Atrial fibrillation (AF, AFib) is an abnormal heart rhythm characterized by an irregular and fast heartbeat. The upper chambers of the heart (atria) beat chaotically. This can cause pooling and clotting of blood in the atria, instead of it emptying into the lower chamber (ventricles). AF can lead to stroke, heart failure, blood clots, and heart-related complications.
- Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation: AF attacks that last for less than 24 hours
- Persistent atrial fibrillation: AF attacks that last for more than seven days and require treatment
- Long-standing persistent atrial fibrillation: AF that has continued for more than a year
The most common causes leading to atrial fibrillation include:
- Heart valve disease
- Heart muscle disease
- Heart disease due to high blood pressure
- Heart defects at birth
- Heart failure
- Inflammation of the outer lining of the heart (pericardium)
- Previous heart surgery
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Thyroid disorders
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Chronic lung disorder
- Snoring during sleep
- Medications such as theophylline, digitalis, and adenosine
- Age over 60 years
What are the signs of AFib?
Frequently, persons with AFib have no symptoms. When Symptoms do occur, the signs of AFib include:
How is atrial fibrillation diagnosed?
The tests commonly used in evaluating a patient with atrial fibrillation are:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG)
- Laboratory tests such as complete blood cell count (CBC), blood urea nitrogen (BUN), creatinine kinase (CK), b-type natriuretic peptide, d-dimer level, and digoxin level
- Computed tomography (CT) scanning and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Holter monitoring
- Electrophysiology studies
- Exercise stress test
Can a person die from atrial fibrillation?
Atrial fibrillation is a serious condition that, if untreated, doubles the risks of heart-related deaths and stroke. The Framingham Heart Study reported that AFib increases the risk of death by 1.5-fold in men and 1.9-fold in women. So, it is important to control atrial fibrillation.
How is atrial fibrillation treated?
The four major goals of atrial fibrillation are
- Regaining a normal heart rhythm,
- Controlling heart rate,
- Preventing blood clots, and
- Mitigating the risk of stroke.
The various treatment options include drug therapy, surgery, and lifestyle changes.
Medications commonly used to treat atrial fibrillation are:
- Antiarrhythmic drugs: Medications such as procainamide and amiodarone help to treat irregular heartbeats.
- Rate control medications: Medications such as digoxin, metoprolol, and verapamil control the heart rate.
- Anticoagulant medications: Medications such as warfarin prevent the formation of clots.
When drug therapy fails, procedures to treat atrial fibrillation include:
- Electrical cardioversion: Restoring normal heart rhythm by using electrical shock with the patient under anesthesia.
- Pulmonary vein ablation: Applying radiofrequency energy or freezing to excitable electrical tissue around the connections of the pulmonary vein near the atrium.
- Ablation of the AV node: A catheter is directed to the heart through the groin. A small area of tissue around the junction connecting the upper (atria) and lower (ventricles) chambers of the heart are destroyed with radiofrequency energy.
- Patients with a slow heart rate may have a pacemaker installed with a pulse generator and wires that transmit electrical impulses to the heart.
- Left atrial appendage closure: A small, ear-shaped sac present in the muscle wall of the atrium that is closed to prevent stroke.
- Maze procedure: This procedure involves a series of cuts made in the upper chambers of the heart to block any abnormal electrical impulse.
- Excision of the left atrial appendage: Surgical removal of the left atrial appendage.
Lifestyle changes for AF include:
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Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)Atrial fibrillation (AF or AFib) is an abnormality in the heart rhythm, which involves irregular and often rapid beating of the heart. Symptoms may include heart palpitations, dizziness, fainting, fatigue, shortness of breath, and chest pain. Atrial fibrillation treatment may include medication or procedures like cardioversion or ablation to normalize the heart rate.
Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) Symptoms and SignsAtrial fibrillation or AFib is a type of heart rhythm abnormality. Early warning signs and symptoms of atrial fibrillation include chest pain, palpitations, shortness of breath, and lightheadedness. Treatment for atrial fibrillation includes medical procedures, surgery, and medication.
Atrial Fibrillation QuizLearn the causes, symptoms, and treatments of the common heart abnormality known as atrial fibrillation (A-fib).
Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) Treatment DrugsAtrial fibrillation (AFib) is a heart rhythm disorder that causes irregular and often rapid heartbeat. The medications to treat AFib include beta-blockers, blood thinners, and heart rhythm drugs. Atrial fibrillation drugs can cause serious side effects like seizures, vision changes, shortness of breath, fainting, other abnormal heart rhythms, excessive bleeding while coughing or vomiting, blood in the stool, and bleeding into the brain.
Living With A-FibAFib symptoms like heart racing, fluttering, and irregular heart beat may be caused by heart disease, obesity, alcohol use, thyroid disease, and other conditions. AFib medications may include blood thinners, drugs to control heart rate or convert the heart to a normal rhythm. AFib surgery is also a treatment possibility.
Atrial Flutter vs. Atrial Fibrillation
Atrial flutter and atrial fibrillation (AFib) are two types of a heart problem called atrial tachycardia. Both of these conditions involve the heart's electrical activity, but they are not the same disease. Both diseases are serious and need medical treatment.
Common symptoms of these diseases are similar and include:
- Blurry vision
- Feeling like you may faint
Serious symptoms of both conditions are similar and include:
- Severe shortness of breath
- Chest pain
Atrial flutter and AFib are heart conditions that require medical diagnosis (ECG) and treatment by a doctor or other medical health-care professional.
Brevibloc (esmolol hydrochloride) InjectionBrevibloc Premixed (esmolol hydrochloride) Injection is a beta-blocker indicated for the rapid control of ventricular rate in patients with atrial fibrillation, or atrial flutter in perioperative, postoperative, or other emergent circumstances. Brevibloc is also indicated in noncompensatory sinus tachycardia where the rapid heart rate requires specific intervention.
Can Atrial Fibrillation Go Away?Atrial fibrillation is a condition in which the heart beats irregularly and rapidly. Rarely, atrial fibrillation can go away on its own. Atrial fibrillation may be brief, with symptoms that come and go. It is possible to have an atrial fibrillation episode that resolves on its own or the condition may be persistent and require treatment.
Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)Congestive heart failure (CHF) refers to a condition in which the heart loses the ability to function properly. Heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, myocarditis, and cardiomyopathies are just a few potential causes of congestive heart failure. Signs and symptoms of congestive heart failure may include fatigue, breathlessness, palpitations, angina, and edema. Physical examination, patient history, blood tests, and imaging tests are used to diagnose congestive heart failure. Treatment of heart failure consists of lifestyle modification and taking medications to decrease fluid in the body and ease the strain on the heart. The prognosis of a patient with congestive heart failure depends on the stage of the heart failure and the overall condition of the individual.
Digitek (digoxin)Digitek (digoxin) is a prescription medication used to treat mild to moderate heart failure and to control ventricular response rate in chronic atrial fibrillation. Adverse reactions are less common when digoxin is used within the recommended dose range or therapeutic serum concentration range and when there is careful attention to concurrent medications and conditions.
Living with Atrial FibrillationLearn how to live easier with atrial fibrillation. What is AFib? Find out the symptoms and causes of this heart condition. Explore tips that can help you manage an irregular heartbeat, including medication, diet, nutrition, exercise, and ways to reduce stress.
Multaq (dronedarone)Multaq is a prescription medicine used to lower the chance that you will need to go into the hospital for atrial fibrillation. It is meant for people who have had certain types of atrial fibrillation (paroxysmal or persistent AF) in the past, but are now in normal rhythm. Taking Multaq is associated with an increased risk of death, stroke, and heart failure in people with decompensated heart failure or permanent atrial fibrillation.
Sotylize (sotalol hydrochloride)Sotylize (fluorouracil) is a prescription medication used to treat life-threatening heart rhythm problems called ventricular arrhythmias and to increase the amount of time between having symptoms of heart rhythm disorders called atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter. Serious side effects of Sotylize include risk of induced arrhythmia, slow heartbeat (bradycardia), new or worsening heart failure, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) in people with diabetes, and others.
What Foods Trigger Atrial Fibrillation?Atrial fibrillation (AFib) occurs when the two smaller, upper chambers of the heart (the atria) beat irregularly instead of rhythmically. This abnormal condition can allow blood clots to form inside the heart and later travel to the brain and cause a stroke. Eating certain foods could trigger atrial fibrillation (AFib) in some patients. These foods include High sugar foods, caffeine, alcohol, food high in sodium, tyramine, gluten, grapefruit, cranberry juice, asparagus, and green leafy vegetables.
What Is the Best Treatment for Atrial Fibrillation?Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, is a type of heart disorder that can cause an abnormally high heart rate. The best type of treatment that is recommended for a patient is based on their symptoms. Treatment options of AFib include lifestyle changes, medications, and procedures such as cardioversion or ablation.