Atrial Fibrillation: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Atrial Fibrillation is commonly described as your heart having an irregular heartbeat.

Atrial Fibrillation or irregular heartbeat and its risks

Atrial Fibrillation is commonly described as your heart having an irregular heartbeat. Long story short, your heart is out of sync. The two upper chambers of your heart aren’t synchronized with the lower ventricles. The heart’s movement and beating pattern are similar to “quivering” instead of the usual march it has.

So what does that mean?

It means that your body’s rhythm for getting oxygenated blood throughout your body is also disturbed. In the long run, this can cause a variety of cardiovascular problems. It can also cause strokes, as the blood has a different rhythmic pattern. Clots may also form because of its irregular beats, increasing the chances of one getting an aneurysm or a stroke.

Can Atrial Fibrillation kill me? What are the risks of Atrial Fibrillation?

Atrial Fibrillation doesn’t normally have the capability to do so. But it is a precursor to something worse. For example, having Atrial Fibrillation with someone who already is obese can heighten the risk of a person suffering from arteriosclerosis. Other things it can lead to is the creation of a clot because the blood is starting to build up. When the blood builds up, it can cause a stroke as the brain is momentarily deprived of oxygen.

The worst case scenario can be aneurysms or strokes because of blood clots. The blood clots in the brain caused by the irregular heartbeats can deprive oxygen. Even for a short moment of time, the brain cannot last without any oxygen. Furthermore, it can cause heart failure when the heart itself is not getting the oxygenated blood it needs.

What are the causes of Atrial Fibrillation?

Atrial Fibrillation is caused by chaotic electrical signals. These electrical signals come from the electrochemical in our brain known as the neurotransmitters. This particular neurotransmitter is known as acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter which is responsible purely for muscle movement which helps the heart pump. For a normal heartbeat, acetylcholine is received easily through the nerves and sends the impulse in a uniformed manner.

For those with Atrial Fibrillation, they get a chaotic mess. There’s a build up of electrical impulse that is all trying to squeeze through. Because impulses have an all-or-nothing rule, this can cause a strange, irregular heartbeat as it will either pump or not at all.

Other causes can include high blood pressure where the arteries are taking damage from the blood pressure. This can either be caused by arteriosclerosis or through psychological means (hypertension). Cardiomyopathy or heart muscle disease where the heart muscles have a defect and have a hard time pumping blood. There’s also the usual risk factors such as heavy drinking and smoking which can also poison the blood, causing more electrical problems.

Sleep conditions can cause Atrial Fibrillation as well. Sleep conditions are linked to circadian rhythms which are the rhythms of the body. That’s inclusive of breathing, mood, sleeping patterns, and even eating patterns. When one has a sleep condition, it may cause Atrial Fibrillation due to the erratic circadian rhythms causing an erratic neurochemical mess.

What are the symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation?

Atrial Fibrillation does not have physical signs only until later on when something is about to occur. Most people detect the Atrial Fibrillation by medical interventions and by going to the doctor. However, there are other symptoms that people can detect early on. Some symptoms include:

1. Tightened chest

This is your heart’s way of trying to compensate and sift through the chaotic electrical impulses.

2. Palpitations

This occurs when the electrical impulses actually get through. Sometimes, there’s so much that your heart starts to pound.

3. Sweatiness

Because of the extra work, your heart is trying to do, your body burns up. When your body burns up, you start to sweat as a means to cool down.

4. Dizziness and nausea

This can be caused by the heat build up and the lack of oxygen. Once this starts to occur, your mind starts to haze and the sounds start to fade behind you. Your head also starts to either feel heavy as if it were made of lead or you’re so lightheaded as if you’re extremely drunk.

5. Faint

Faint comes from the dizziness and nausea. You no longer have full control of your limbs. When you try to move your limbs, they’re extremely limp.

6. Confused

Your mind’s trying to process things but you’re not getting enough oxygen to have your brain to actually work.

7. Reduced ability to exercise

This is caused by the heart’s lack of ability to pump oxygenated blood through. Your body will go into anaerobic perspiration which will cause Lactic Acid to build up, causing also muscle pains.

Does Atrial Fibrillation have treatment?

Good news, yes, Atrial Fibrillation has treatment! Depending on which kind of treatment you need, there will also be a variety of medicines to weaken the effect of having an irregular heartbeat.

Heartbeat medicine

This helps control the electrical impulse build up in your heart to have it pump normally.

Pacemakers

This is more of a physical device. However, the pacemaker is implanted via surgery to help keep your heart at a normal rate.

Blood Thinner medicines

So that clots won’t build up, the blood thinner medicine reacts to the blood to make sure it can pass smoothly even with the slightest beat. However, this may one prone to bruising and bleeding more easily. So, no contact sports for those who have to take this.

Electrocardioversion

To get your heart right on track and to remove the electrical clogging, one would have to go to the doctor. They’ll sedate you that use a defibrillator to jumpstart your heart properly to get its rhythm back on track. But since you’re asleep, there’s a high chance you won’t feel much. And, you’ll have your heart working.

Catheter Ablation

Considered as one of the least invasive ones, a tube is placed on the leg which is guided to the heart. Once guided, it’ll fix the electrochemical mess up causing the irregular heartbeat and have your heart working on the right rhythm.

Sources:
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