Some of the medical conditions that may cause AFib to include:
- After a heart surgery
- Cardiomyopathy (diseases of the heart muscles)
- Chronic (long-term) lung diseases
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Coronary artery disease (CAD) (disease of the blood vessels supplying the heart)
- Valvular heart disease (abnormality in the heart valves)
- Pulmonary embolism (blood clots in the lungs)
- Congenital heart disease (a heart disease a person is born with)
- Myocarditis (viral infections)
- Hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid gland)
- Pericarditis (inflammation of the covering of the heart or pericardium)
- Age above 60 years
- Excessive caffeine consumption
- Genetic factors
What is atrial fibrillation?
Atrial fibrillation (AFib or AF) refers to abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia) that causes quivering or irregular heartbeats. It is a serious medical condition that may further lead to stroke and heart failure. The heart is a muscular organ roughly the size of a closed fist. It has two upper chambers called atria and two lower chambers called ventricles. The flow of blood into the heart, within the heart chambers, and from the heart is guarded by the four valves present in the heart. The heart gets its nutrients and oxygen through the coronary arteries that run along the surface of the heart. It is also richly supplied by a web of nerve tissue that facilitates the rhythmic heartbeat. A regular, well-coordinated heartbeat is essential for the heart to do its job: pump blood effectively throughout the body. Electrical signals travel through the heart to cause rhythmic contractions and relaxation of its chambers. Normally, the heart beats around 60-100 times a minute. This regular heartbeat is called sinus rhythm. AFib is a condition in which the electrical signals in the heart become chaotic. This results in the twitching or quivering of the atria that becomes unable to pump blood effectively into the ventricles. Contractions are not coordinated and result in an irregular and abnormally fast heart rate. This abnormally fast rhythm may cause a blood clot to break off and travel to the brain causing a stroke. Untreated AFib may increase the risk of stroke by five times. It can also make the heart weak leading to heart failure, which is a condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the demands of the body. Despite all the potential risks associated with AFib, many people are not aware that it is a serious condition.
What are the symptoms of atrial fibrillation?
The symptoms of atrial fibrillation (AFib) include:
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