Understanding Atrial Fibrillation

August 7, 2014Comments Off on Understanding Atrial Fibrillation

One of the most common reasons for Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is Arrhythmia. Arrhythmia is the term used by medical professionals to describe a problem concerning the heart’s beating pattern. This problem could come in the form of irregular beats, too fast, or too slow beats. One of the most common types of Arrhythmia is what is known as Atrial Fibrillation.

As the name implies, Atrial Fibrillation concerns the two upper chambers of the heart – the atria. In an AF,  the electrical signals become so disorganized that the atria is forced to pump rapidly and in an irregular manner. This causes the blood to stay in the atria which, in turn, adds stress to the heart causing the atria to have an uncoordinated pattern with the ventricles. Some of the most common medical conditions that can result to Atrial Fibrillation include hypertension and coronary heart disease. The risk for AF tend to go higher if you have any of the following conditions:

  • cardiomyopathy
  • congenital heart disease
  • previous heart surgery
  • hyperthyroidism
  • sleep apnea

Signs and Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation

Some of the most common signs and symptoms that you might be suffering from Atrial Fibrillation include the following:

  • heart palpitations, or what most people experience as fluttering
  • chest pain or discomfort
  • shortness of breath
  • abdominal pain
  • fatigue
  • light-headedness

Depending on how advanced the case is, a person suffering from atrial fibrillation might experience the symptoms every now and then, with most lasting for only a few minutes. In the case of chronic atrial fibrillation, however, the patient may experience the signs all the time. You should also need to keep in mind that Atrial Fibrillation tends to occur more in older adults although there have been reported cases of AF in teens. Older adults who have AF tend to be more at risk when it comes to stroke as well as Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Keep in mind that SCA is typically brought about by a disruption in the normal beating pattern of the heart.

Treatment Plan

In most cases, a person suffering from Atrial Fibrillation would be given medication that could help control the beating pattern of the heart. These medication would include amiodarone, sotalol, and defetilide, among others. A pacemaker could also be put into place. If these do not remedy the situation, the patient might be made to undergo Radio Frequency Ablation or Electrical Cardioversion. In the former, a thin tube is inserted through the blood vessel from the groin area all the way to the heart. RF is then applied in order to burn the heart tissue that is keeping the heart from having a regular beating pattern. The latter, on the other hand, makes use of pads placed on the chest area. An electric current is made to go through this pads in order to jolt the heart into going back to its normal beating pattern. This is the same physics that is employed by an AED unit.

If you think you might be suffering from Atrial Fibrillation, or if you have someone who has a high risk for the said condition, you might want to consider having an AED unit around.