Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a type of arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat. It is caused by disorganized electrical signals in the cardiac conduction system. It results in the upper chambers of the heart (the atria) to beat in an uncontrolled and irregular manner, causing the heart to pump less effectively and leading to an increased risk of blood clots and stroke. Although, some people have no symptoms, most people will feel some symptoms which may include heart palpitations, light headedness or dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, and/or chest pain. The condition can be treated with medications, lifestyle changes, and sometimes procedures such as catheter ablation.
Risk factors for atrial fibrillation (AFib) include:
Age: The risk of AFib increases as you get older.
High blood pressure: Hypertension can damage the heart and increase the risk of AFib.
Heart disease: People with heart disease, such as heart valve problems, heart failure, and previous heart attacks, have a higher risk of AFib.
Family history: A family history of AFib increases the risk of developing the condition.
Sleep apnea: This condition, characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep, has been linked to AFib.
Thyroid disorders: Hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid) and hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) can both increase the risk of AFib.
Lifestyle factors: smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, obesity, and lack of physical activity are also risk factors for AFib.
Other health conditions: chronic lung disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer have also been associated with an increased risk of AFib.
The management of atrial fibrillation (AFib) typically involves a combination of lifestyle changes, medications, and procedures. The specific treatment plan will depend on the individual's symptoms, the underlying cause of their AFib, and any other medical conditions they may have.
Lifestyle changes: Patients are often advised to maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
Medications: Medications that can be used to treat AFib include blood thinners to reduce the risk of blood clots, beta blockers and calcium channel blockers to slow down the heart rate, and anti-arrhythmic medications to restore a normal heart rhythm.
Procedures: In some cases, procedures such as catheter ablation, in which a small catheter is inserted into the heart to destroy small areas of tissue that are causing the irregular rhythm, or a surgery called maze procedure can be used to correct the abnormal heart rhythm.
Monitoring: Patients with AFib are often advised to wear a heart monitor or carry an event recorder to record their heart rate and rhythm, so that their doctor can track the progression of the condition over time.
It's important to note that not all patients with AFib require treatment, and some may need only occasional monitoring. It's important to work with a healthcare provider to determine the best treatment plan for each individual case