Atrial Fibrillation (Afib) – Cause, Symptoms, Complications & Treatment

What is atrial fibrillation (Afib)?

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 (paroxysmal afib): 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.

Arteril fibrillation

What are the atrial fibrillation causes?

  • Hypertension (High blood pressure)
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • 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 (Afib)?

  • Older age
  • Previous heart disease/heart surgery
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Obesity
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Family history of atrial fibrillation
Atrial Fibrillation
Medical illustration 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
  • Sweating
  • Syncope
  • Fatigue

What are the complications of atrial fibrillation (afib)?

  • 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
  • Echocardiogram
  • Transthoracic echocardiogram
  • CT scan
  • Chest X-ray

How is atrial fibrillation treated (Afib)?

  • 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


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