Atrial fibrillation, also known as A-fib, is one among the common types of arrhythmia (irregular heartbeats). Usually, the heart beats at a steady rhythm. But when this process gets disrupted, it is called arrhythmia.
A-fib happens when the electrical rhythm of the heart gets interrupted due to the quivering of the upper quadrants of the heart, known as the atria. Due to this quivering, the normal rhythm between the atria and the ventricles is disturbed, thereby resulting in the ventricles beating at a faster and irregular pace, than normal. This condition could be dangerous as irregular heartbeat could lead to pooling of the blood in the atria, which could result in blood clots. These clots could get pumped out into the bloodstream and reach the brain, thereby causing a stroke. The clots in the heart could also lead to heart failure.
Causes of Atrial Fibrillation
There are various causes to atrial fibrillation ranging from congenital heart disorders to lifestyle disorders. Some of the causes are:
Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation usually does not cause obvious symptoms. However, if any symptoms appear, it would be one among the ones given below:
If you experience any of the above symptoms, do consult with your cardiologist.
Types of Atrial Fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation can be of different types, and the treatment is usually based on the type of A-fib.
Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation – Also known as the holiday heart syndrome, this happens especially when you have a couple of drinks or go through a new exercise routine. When the heart is not used to such kind of stress, it may go into an A-fib. This type, usually does not require treatment, as it happens only for a day or a few days.
Persistent Atrial Fibrillation – This type of A-fib may last over a week and may require treatment. The cardiologist may suggest using low voltage current to set the rhythm back to normal.
Long standing persistent Atrial Fibrillation – This type usually lasts over a year and would not go away by medication and electrical cardio version. Surgery may be required to treat these cases.
Chronic Atrial Fibrillation – This type of A-fib usually is congenital or a chronic disorder, and cannot be corrected using treatment. So the cardiologist may prescribe medications to reduce the heart rate to avoid a stroke.
Diagnosis of Atrial Fibrillation
When you consult with your cardiologist, he would conduct a physical exam, followed by tests such as electrocardiogram (to check for problems with the heart’s electrical activity) or an echocardiogram (to check for damage in heart valves) or other lab tests.
The treatment prescribed depends on the type of A-fib, and your symptoms and causes, and the risk for stroke. Medications prescribed includes blood thinning medication to manage clot formation, rate-control medication to manage heartbeats during an A-fib etc. Doctors may also prescribe an electrical cardioversion (low voltage electric shock) to bring back the rhythm to normal. In extreme cases, ablation may be done to create a scar tissue in the regions of the heart that causes abnormal heart rhythm.
Home Treatments for Atrial Fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation is most often the result of lifestyle disorders. Hence, the following home remedies can be practised to keep the a-fib in check.
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