Atrial Fibrillation: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Posted On Apr 19, 2022

Dr. K. Syed Abdul Khadar

Consultant - Interventional Cardiologist

Manipal Hospitals-Salem

Best Cardiology Hospital in Salem

Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is a medical condition of the heart that causes an irregular and abnormally fast heart rate. It often goes undiagnosed due to the lack of symptoms. Atrial fibrillation can cause life-threatening problems like heart failure and stroke. There are about 37,574 million cases of atrial fibrillation globally and this number has increased by 33% in the last two decades. 

What is Atrial Fibrillation?

Atrial Fibrillation or AFib or AF is a type of heart condition where you will experience irregular heartbeats along with disturbed blood flow. The upper and lower chambers of the heart do not beat in a coordinated manner causing the heart to beat either too slowly, too quickly, or irregularly.

Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation

Most people are often asymptomatic when they have Atrial Fibrillation. If you do experience certain symptoms, then they may be any one or more of the following:

  • Irregular heartbeats

  • Lightheadedness

  • Heart palpitations - rapid, fluttering, or pounding of your heart

  • Extreme fatigue

  • Chest pain

  • Shortness of breath

Risk Factors of Atrial Fibrillation

  • Increasing age

  • High blood pressure

  • Diabetes

  • Obesity

  • Heart failure

  • Ischaemic Heart Disease

  • Chronic Kidney Disease

  • Hyperthyroidism

  • Enlargement of the chambers on the left side of the heart

  • Moderate to heavy alcohol use

  • Smoking

Causes of Atrial Fibrillation

There are no known causes of atrial fibrillation. However, it is often associated with certain conditions like:

  • Cardiomyopathy

  • Heart surgery

  • Chronic lung disease

  • Congenital heart disease

  • Heart failure

  • High blood pressure

  • Heart valve disease

  • Pulmonary hypertension

Lesser common causes include:

  • Pericarditis

  • Viral infection

  • Hyperthyroidism

Diagnosis of Atrial Fibrillation

  1. ECG

The electrocardiogram (ECG) draws a picture on graph paper and gives a visualization of the electrical impulses travelling through the heart muscle. This helps provide an electrical ‘snapshot’ of the heart. 

  1. Holter monitor

You will be made to wear a small external recorder on you for about one to three days. Wires will be attached from electrodes that are placed on your chest. These electrodes will record the impulses and store them on the monitor. The data is then analysed to evaluate the heart’s rhythm.

  1. Portable monitor

This monitor is worn for a month by the patient if you have less frequent symptoms. The electrodes are placed in the same manner, but you will have to press the button to activate the monitor each time you experience symptoms. The recorded data is then transmitted for evaluation. 

  1. Transtelephonic monitor

You will be made to wear two bracelets, or the monitor will be attached to your chest wall. Each time you experience an episode of atrial fibrillation, a strip of your heart rhythm will be sent to your doctor. 

Management of Atrial Fibrillation

The goal of managing atrial fibrillation is to regain normal heart rhythm, regulate the heart rate, prevent blood clots, and reduce your risk of stroke. 

  1. Medical treatment

Medicines include antiarrhythmic drugs (medicines to control heart rhythm), medicines to control heart rates like beta-blockers or calcium channel blockers, and anticoagulant medicines (medicines that reduce the risk of blood clots and keep the blood thin). If you are looking for the best hospital for atrial fibrillation in Salem then visit Manipal Hospital.

  1. Lifestyle changes

Apart from taking medicines, you will have to make alterations in your lifestyle to manage your atrial fibrillation and improve your heart health.

  • If your irregular heart rhythm is associated with certain activities, then you may have to avoid those activities. Your doctor may prescribe certain medicines to help your heart to adjust to these activities. 

  • Limit your alcohol intake. Moderation is the best and consults your doctor to understand the specific guidelines. 

  • Quit smoking. Both active and passive smoking is harmful.

  • Reduce your caffeine intake. Some people may experience more symptoms when they have caffeine. This may be due to over-sensitivity to caffeine. Avoid caffeinated products like colas, tea, coffee, energy drinks, and some over-the-counter medicines.

  • Control your blood pressure levels and blood sugar levels.

  • Maintain an ideal body weight to keep most diseases at bay.

  • Avoid the use of stimulants like cough and cold medicines as they contain ingredients that increase your risk of irregular heart rhythms. 

  • Get good sleep regularly. Manage your sleep apnea if you have it.

Takeaway

If you feel that your heart rate is irregular or have any of the above symptoms, consult your doctor right away. Atrial fibrillation can be managed easily with the help of medicines and lifestyle changes.

Manipal Hospital is one of the best cardiology hospitals in Salem equipped with world-class facilities and experienced doctors who are trained in treating common to rare cardiology conditions.

 

Dr. K. Syed abdul Khadar

Consultant - Interventional Cardiologist

Manipal Hospital Salem

 

Dr. Bharathi Thasan

Consultant - Interventional Cardiologist

Manipal Hospital, salem

 

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