Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is a type of cardiac arrhythmia caused by the abnormal functioning of the impulse conduction system of the heart. Essentially, arrhythmias are an irregular heartbeat that occur when the electrical signals that coordinate the cardiac cycle are disrupted. Atrial fibrillation belongs to a class called supraventricular arrhythmias, which refers to one that originates from the upper ventricular area. It is the most common cause of cardiac stroke.
In patients with atrial fibrillation, both abnormal functioning of the sinoatrial node and signal transmission to atrial cardiac muscles can lead to pulse rates higher than 100 beats per minute. The condition is called tachyarrhythmia. It results in a turbulent blood flow and increased chances of blood clot formation.
Based on the development pattern, AFib is of four types:
This type terminates within seven days from the onset, either on its own or with the help of intervention.
Arrhythmic episodes that persist for more than seven days are called persistent AF. It needs pharmacological or electrical cardiac interventions.
This type persists for more than 12 months due to failure to initiate medical intervention and is often associated with structural heart damage. This type of AFib is hard to treat as it doesn’t respond to medication and requires more invasive procedures.
Permanent AFib occurs when medication and medical therapy do not restore your heart rate or rhythm to the norm. In this case doctors decide to end treatment and the patient lives with an impaired heart.
If primary care consultations indicate cardiac involvement when analysing symptoms, referral to a cardiology or cardiac electrophysiology clinic is appropriate. Cardiovascular risk assessment helps long-term management of AF.
Based on the physical history and the results of the primary diagnosis, specialists suggest additional testing. They include exercise testing, heart monitoring, transoesophageal echocardiogram, and electrophysiological examination.
Differential diagnosis of AFib saves the patient from profound consequences, such as ischemic stroke. The diagnosis and evaluation setup is decided based on the combination of symptoms, severity, and frequency/nature of the symptoms.
Having a Heart Rate Monitor is one way to always keep tabs on your cardiac health.
Any cardiac ailment has a significant impact on life. Similarly, AFib disrupts overall health, increasing the risks of life-threatening complications. The knowledge of possible complications has negative psychological implications like increased stress, anxiety, and depression. These burdens, in turn, impact the prognosis of the underlying disease. This also increases the morbidity rate in patients with AFib.
As the condition persists, patients develop exercise intolerance as patients experience increased pain and discomfort. The blood pumping issues, coupled with AFib, weaken the muscles during episodes, and the effects carry on due to associated psychological factors. They have difficulty moving briskly and take more time to perform complex activities. More than the physical outcomes, psychological distress takes over their vigilance. Consequently, they lose the ability to take care of themselves.
Moreover, patients diagnosed with moderate to high-risk AFib require anticoagulant agents, which increases the risk of bleeding. People with AFib may need regular clinic visits to assess the risk and revise the doses to optimise their AFib treatment. This may disrupt daily activities and drain energy by altering work schedules.
The disease extends its impact on the life of their caregivers, disrupting their daily life schedules. A balance between their personal life and attention toward the patient is a burden. It leads to inadequate patient support, physical and emotional stress, caregiver burnout, and suboptimal patient outcomes. Especially elderly patients are emotionally sensitive and complicated to manage.
Fatigue and palpitations can trigger mental breakdowns. However, patients with persistent AFib may also develop stronger willpower. It depends on the environment they live in and their interactions with the people around them. However, a positive and friendly atmosphere always helps patients to get through the episodes. Patients often report unpredictable, arrhythmia-related distress.
Antiarrhythmic drugs, beta-blockers, and calcium channel blockers are the most common medications to control heart rate. However, they can cause an abnormal heartbeat, which is difficult to distinguish between arrhythmia episodes except for the intensity. The perplexing side effect contributes to patients’ anxiety.
Patients with AFib are at high risk of other cardiovascular diseases, including heart failure, stroke, and heart attack. In addition, it also increases the risk of cognitive dysfunction and, vascular dementia, eventually death. The neurological complications, which arise from cardiovascular events, cripple their ability to learn, remember, and other faculties, such as decision-making.
Cardiac ailments, including atrial fibrillation, are detrimental for all age groups. Regular physical exercise and a balanced diet are crucial for the long-term good health of the heart. It is always better to seek medical attention for the appearance of suspicious symptoms related to cardiac health. When anyone shows signs of arrhythmia, the person must understand their body and avoid habits that elicit the underlying heart condition.
Atrial fibrillation isn’t usually life-threatening or considered serious in otherwise healthy people. Yet, atrial fibrillation can be risky for those having diabetes, high blood pressure, or other heart-related diseases.
Warning signs of AFib include fluttering, pounding, racing, or skipping beats. You may or may not experience tiredness, lightheaded, or shortness of breath.
During AFib, the normal beating in the upper chambers of the heart (the two atria) fluctuates, and blood doesn’t flow as it should from the atria to the lower chambers of the heart (the two ventricles).
Below are some that should be avoided if you have Atrial Fibrillation :
Leafy Green Vegetables
Gluten & more
Atrial fibrillation is a progressive disease related to heart.
Other Heart Health Topics To Explore:
Mental Stress | Heart Attack Symptoms | Heart Palpitations Causes | Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation | Heart Health | Cardiac Arrhythmia | Heart Palpitations After Eating | Running Heart Rate Zones | Low Heart Rate | Heart Rate Monitor