Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a form of irregular heartbeat, caused by rapid, uncontrolled electrical impulses in the atria of the heart – the two small upper chambers of the heart. This can cause symptoms such as palpitations, shortness of breath and fatigue. AFib increases your risk of stroke and other problems so it’s important to understand your risk and know how it can be managed.
AFib often causes a rapid, fluttering or irregular pulse, known as palpitations. Other symptoms may include chest discomfort, shortness of breath, fatigue, and lightheadedness or dizziness. If you experience any of these signs and symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention right away.
Physicians don’t always know the cause of atrial fibrillation (AFib). One theory suggests that when there is an electrical short circuit in the heart, it causes the heart to fibrillate or quiver. Possible causes of AFib include high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, heart attack, valve disease, and overactive thyroid or other hormonal problems.
Risk factors for AFib include: being over the age of 65, having high blood pressure, having thyroid disease, having heart failure, having diabetes, and having sleep apnea. Additionally, lifestyle factors such as alcohol and caffeine consumption, stress and smoking can all increase your risk of developing AFib.
Treatment of atrial fibrillation (AFib) depends on how severe it is and how much it disrupts your life. In general, medications, lifestyle changes, and procedures may all be used to bring your heart rate and rhythm back to normal. Commonly prescribed medications include beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, and antiarrhythmic medications. Other treatments for AFib may include electrical cardioversion, catheter ablation, and rate control surgery.
Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a common type of irregular heartbeat that can cause serious complications, so it’s important to understand your risk, watch for signs and symptoms, and seek medical attention if you experience them. Treatment for AFib can include medications, lifestyle changes, and procedures, so speak with your doctor about the best course of treatment for you.
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