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What is Atrial Fibrillation

What is Atrial Fibrillation 

Atrial fibrillation is a common form of irregular heartbeat that is occasionally an indicator of other serious health issues. While it is not normally a serious condition, there are instances in which it can require emergency medical care.

The condition is caused by the upper chambers of the heart beating out of rhythm with the lower two chambers. In a normally functioning heart the rhythm of the heartbeat is coordinated by electrical impulses with the upper two (the atria) being keeping in rhythm with the bottom two (the ventricles). Atrial fibrillation is the condition wherein the two sets of chambers are out of sync with each other. The upper chambers beat rapidly and spasmodically, with the bottom two doing the same but to a lesser extent. In a normal heart, the rate of beats per minute ranges between 60 and 100, in a person who this type of irregular heartbeat, the rate may be as high as 175 beats per minute.

What is Atrial FibrillationSymptoms
Atrial fibrillation usually presents with a rapid heartbeat, but there are other symptoms including swelling in various parts of the body (similar to the swelling from water retention), and angina. The symptoms may arise as a result of physical exertion or they may occur on their own. The episodes of this condition may also be occasional or chronic and can occur in different age groups regardless of an individual’s risk of heart disease.

Associated Conditions

  • High blood pressure is a condition often linked with atrial fibrillation and therefore it may be a sign of an increased risk of stroke.

  • One study has found that the condition is also often found in patients with sleep apnea.

  • Patients who have diabetes also disproportionately suffer from this type of arrhythmia. The connection between the two conditions is not completely understood.



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