Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (AF) is a type of irregular heartbeat that occurs suddenly and typically lasts for a short period of time. It is a form of atrial fibrillation – a common type of arrhythmia that affects the heart’s upper chambers (the atria). In atrial fibrillation, the normal electrical signals that coordinate the contraction of the atria are disrupted, causing the atria to contract rapidly and irregularly. This can lead to an irregular and often rapid heartbeat, as well as other symptoms such as palpitations, shortness of breath, and chest pain.
Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation is characterised by episodes of AF that come and go on their own, usually lasting between a few minutes to a few days. These episodes can occur without warning, and may be triggered by factors such as stress, alcohol consumption, or other health conditions.
Treatment for paroxysmal atrial fibrillation may include medication to control the heart rate and rhythm, lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of triggers, and procedures such as cardioversion or ablation to restore normal heart rhythm. In some cases, long-term treatment with blood thinners may be necessary to prevent blood clots and reduce the risk of stroke.
There are several potential causes of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, including:
It’s important to note that in many cases, the exact cause of atrial fibrillation might remain unknown.
The most common symptoms of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation are:
It’s important to note that not everyone with atrial fibrillation will experience all of these symptoms, and the severity of symptoms can vary widely from person to person. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to speak with a healthcare provider to determine the cause so you can receive appropriate treatment.
Major and frequent consequences of AFib include stroke and systemic embolism. Stroke risk is increased 4- to 5-fold in those with AFib compared to those without the condition. Even when a person with AFib is not experiencing an episode of AFib, they may still be at an increased risk of stroke due to other, as-yet-unknown risk factors linked with AFib. While having more AFib does increase your risk of stroke and systemic embolism, this risk appears to be largely unrelated to the severity of your condition.
A stroke can occur when clots in the bloodstream reach the brain. They can also cause systemic embolism by getting stuck in your digestive tract, limbs, or kidneys, preventing blood from reaching those areas. Long-term untreated AFib can weaken the heart to the point where it can no longer efficiently pump blood and oxygen throughout the body, resulting in congestive heart failure.
Fortunately, several treatments are available to slow down or even stop the progression of AFib.
Your doctor may prescribe medication to treat your condition if it has a known medical cause, such as an overactive thyroid or high blood pressure. If possible, your doctor will take measures to maintain a regular heart rate and avoid complications like blood clots. Drugs that slow the heart rate are standard treatment for Atrial Fibrillation. Long-term treatment with blood thinners may be necessary to prevent blood clots and reduce the risk of stroke in people with atrial fibrillation. After the doctor has stabilised your heart rate, they may prescribe medicine to restore a normal rhythm.
If your AFib is not under control with medication, your doctor may suggest electrical cardioversion. The doctor delivers a shock to the heart to restore a normal rhythm. They might use paddles or adhesive patches called electrodes on your chest to induce a response. You’ll start by taking something to help you sleep. The next step is for your doctor to place the paddles on your chest and, occasionally, your back. To restore normal heart rhythm, they will deliver electrical shocks.
Even those who need medication for Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation generally lead normal, healthy lives. Living effectively with paroxysmal AFib requires managing risk factors, being aware of potential triggers, and developing a long-term management strategy with a physician.
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The links between Atrial Fibrillation and anxiety are not fully understood. However, studies have linked AFib to anxiety (if you have AFib, you might worry about your symptoms or quality of life).
AFib has been dubbed the “new cardiovascular disease epidemic of the 21st century” by some researchers. AFib is particularly prevalent in older people. Globally, around 33 million people over 55 have been diagnosed.
Your heart’s electrical system isn’t functioning properly if you have AFib. Your heartbeat is erratic and quick due to the wild electrical impulses in your body.
Make sure to mention any new symptoms or issues, such as side effects from medication, at each visit. Although your healthcare practitioner will question you, it’s crucial to ask questions.
AFib becomes chronic if symptoms last for more than a week. Persistent AFib may progress to permanent AFib if it happens more frequently. When in doubt, patients should always consult their doctor.
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