What is atrial fibrillation?
- Atrial fibrillation is an irregular or fast beating of upper chambers (atria) of heart leading to ineffective blood pumping to various organs.
- Atrial fibrillation is termed as “A-fib” in short form.
- This condition increases the risk of developing stroke; heart-related problems as well as death due to the blood clots formed during an irregular heartbeat.
- Atrial fibrillation is classified into different categories include:
- Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation: Irregular heartbeat terminates immediately or with intervention within seven days.
- Persistent atrial fibrillation: This stage cannot be self-terminate by itself and require medication or electrical shock for the restoration of normal rhythm and rate.
- Long-standing persistent atrial fibrillation: Symptoms lasting more than 12 months.
- Permanent atrial fibrillation: In this type, atrial fibrillation is not restored permanently and often requires lifelong medicines to control rate and rhythm.
What are the causes of atrial fibrillation?
- Hypertension (High blood pressure)
- Heart-related problems like heart valve disease, coronary artery disease, congenital heart disease.
- Diabetes mellitus (High sugar levels)
- Chronic kidney disease
- Chronic lung disease
- Obstructive sleep apnea
Who increases the risk of developing atrial fibrillation?
- Older age
- Previous heart disease/heart surgery
- Alcohol consumption
- Metabolic disorders
- Family history of atrial fibrillation
What are the symptoms of atrial fibrillation?
- Irregular heartbeat
- Chest pain or tightness
- Shortness of breath, especially during physical activity
- Lightheadedness and dizziness
What are the complications of atrial fibrillation?
- Stroke: In atrial fibrillation, the abnormal rhythm may use the overload of blood in atria and form blood clots. These clots potentially can travel into blood vessels the brain and cause stroke.
- Heart failure: When the heart cannot pump blood enough to meet body metabolic requirements.
- Cardiac myopathy: Weakness of cardiac muscle
- Sudden death
How is atrial fibrillation diagnosed?
- Electrocardiogram: To determine electrical changes in heart during atrial fibrillation
- Transthoracic echocardiogram
- CT scan
- Chest X-ray
How is atrial fibrillation treated?
- Anti-coagulation therapy to prevent blood clots
- Pharmacological therapy to control heart rate and rhythm
- Electrical cardioversion ( Shock) to reset the cardiac rhythm
- Cardioversion with antiarrhythmic rhythmics to restore cardiac rhythm
- Catheter ablation/maze procedure/ AV node ablation to restore normal rhythm
Left atrial appendage closure to prevent blood clots