Read More >>
One such malady is called atrial fibrillation, which is sometimes abbreviated as afib.
Atrial Fibrillation Overview
Afib occurs when an afflicted individual's heart rate elevates to excessively high levels. Specifically, the disease progresses as the atria, or the heart's upper chambers beat uncontrollably and out of sink with the lower chambers, which are known scientifically as the ventricles.
Medical researchers believe that the underlying biological cause of afib is the failure of an important collection of cells known as the sinus node. This feature, situated in the upper right atria, produces crucial signals that regulate and stabilize the pulse rate.
In persons with atrial fibrillation, these signals become crossed, which precipitates the excessive and rapid release of electrical impulses. Such impulses confuse the heart muscle and force it to contract faster and faster. Ultimately, said circumstances produce pulse rates clocking in at anywhere from 150 10 175 beats per minute, which is in stark contrast to the usual normal range of 60 to 100 beats.
That said, healthcare providers also maintain that any number of medical issues could foster afib's development, including heart attacks, high blood pressure, heart valve damage, congenital heart defects, lung maladies, infections, sleep apnea, and an overactive thyroid.
Additionally, atrial fibrillation could result after ingesting certain medications, in addition to the excessive use of potentially detrimental products, like alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco.
Researchers maintain that persons possessing specific personal attributes or underlying health concerns could be at greater risk of developing atrial fibrillation. Such issues include:
Though the condition could strike at any age, one's risk advances with age.
Any type of cardiovascular issue, such as undetected heart disease, diagnosed conditions, and elevated blood pressure could heighten an individual's chances for contracting afib.
Persons carrying excessive amounts of weight often carry a more serious risk because these additional pounds place significant strain on the heart and its pumping capacity.
Subjects with close relatives stricken with atrial fibrillation have a better chance of eventually developing the ailment themselves.
Secondary Medical Problems
Other systemic illnesses, such as autoimmune disorders, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, in addition to kidney and lung diseases may precipitate incidents of afib.
Often, the most obvious physical manifestations are heart palpitations. These events are not only categorized by a racing pulse but the feeling that the heart is pounding and beating out of its normal rhythm.
Afflicted subjects might encounter other untoward and alarming symptoms, including marked fatigue, dizziness, chest discomfort, and breathing difficulties. Moreover, afib can occur over varying time frames.
For certain individuals, said occurrences happen occasionally. In such cases, symptoms only last for several minutes to a few hours and might not require treatment. Persistent cases linger and require medical intervention to return the impacted heart to its normal rate and rhythm.
Long-standing persistent occurrences usually linger for up to a year or slightly longer. Finally, permanent instances occur consistently and require lifelong medical treatment to avoid possible complications.
If not properly treated, atrial fibrillation could yield significant and possibly life-limiting complications such as:
Over an appreciable period of time, an abnormally and rapidly beating heart could stand at risk of developing heart failure. This quite serious medical condition weakens the heart to the point said organ loses its capacity to adequately pump blood to the rest of the body.
The disturbed pulse could cause blood to pool abnormally within the atria. Eventually, this event could lead to the formation of blood clots capable of breaking away from heart and entering the bloodstream. Said anomalies can become dislodged in blood vessels causing blood flow obstructions in impacted regions. Such happenings could precipitate life-threatening occurrences like strokes, heart attacks, and peripheral artery disease.
Diagnosis might not always be a quick and easy process because afib often results from some undetected medical concern. That said, the diagnostic process is usually performed over several stages.
During the initial phase, the examining doctor will likely perform a comprehensive examination, inquire about the patient's medical history, ask said subject to disclose their lifestyle habits, and review the presenting symptoms.
In many instances, official confirmation will require the use of diagnostic tools like the electrocardiogram, often known as an ECG. This will enable the presiding physician to monitor and record the afflicted individual's heart rate, rhythm, and the occurrence of any abnormalities.
Should an ECG prove inconclusive, the examining healthcare provider might employ other tests including:
This piece of equipment allows doctors to capture photos of a patient's heart in motion. Said efforts might help investigating medical professionals identify any underlying heart damage or illnesses.
Blood tests might reveal the presence of substances or maladies capable of inducing afib.
During this procedure, the individual under scrutiny engages in exercises while physicians examine how the heart performs under physical duress.
Discernible deterioration inside one's heart or lungs could precipitate atrial fibrillation. X-Rays of the chest might reveal such issues.
Potential Treatment Options
Treatment will depend on several factors, such as the condition's severity, the patient's age, physical well-being, general systemic health, the underlying illness, and how often atrial fibrillation takes place.
Occasionally, addressing the precipitating health malady may reduce or possibly even stop future occurrences. However, when said results cannot be produced, the focus of treatment turns to a process known as cardioversion. This means returning the heart to its normal pulse rate and rhythm. Cardioversion is typically performed using mechanical methods or medications.
Electrical or mechanical cardioversion is executed by shocking the patient's heart using electrical paddles. Those undergoing drug treatment are administered preparations called anti-arrythmics, which are designed to gradually help restore the heart's typical rhythm.
Both procedures are usually performed inside a medical facility where the patient can be closely monitored. Moreover, patients undergoing cardioversion will likely need subsequent drug therapy to prevent future afib recurrences. The severest cases might require surgery.
If properly diagnosed and treated, afflicted individuals could keep atrial fibrillation under control and lead a normal life. In addition to following prescribed treatments, said subjects may also prevent future events through efforts, like not smoking or drinking, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, obtaining enough sleep, and consuming a balanced diet.
This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author. This content has not been paid for by any advertiser nor does Answer.Expert recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. This article is provided for informational purposes only. Answer.Expert does not provide professional advice of any kind. You should seek guidance from your medical, financial, legal, or other professional representative with any questions you many have about your personal situation.