After practicing exercise or having unexpected incidents, you may notice your heart race fluctuated. It’s a normal phenomenon, yet it can be an alarm of several heart problems. One of the most common conditions that cause irregular heart beat is Atrial Fibrillation. This condition often links with many serious heart-related diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, coronary artery disease (CAD) or heart failure.
What is Atrial Fibrillation?
At the normal stage, your heart will contract to a steady and stable beat between 140-180 times per minute. In atrial fibrillation, the atria (the upper chambers of your heart) will uncontrollably increase the beat. Hence, instead of normally move blood into the ventricles, the increased blood flow cause the ventricles beat faster between 50 to 180 times per minute. In the UK, nearly 50,000 cases of heart issue are related to Atrial Fibrillation. This condition is very common in older people, but it also affects younger people as well.
What are causes of AF?
In some rare case, there are no apparent causes of AF until it’s actually happened. However, daily activities and certain diseases could trigger and cause AF, including:
- High blood pressure: This is the most common cause of AF. When the blood sugar levels are higher than normal rate, it will lead to high blood pressure and puts a strain on the heart muscle causing AF.
- Causing by other heart diseases: AF could also be known as the complication of many heart problems like heart failure or ischemic heart disease. In this condition, patients will experience chest pain and heart attacks. Other heart conditions such as pericardial disease, dilated cardiomyopathy and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy are also the AF triggers. Overweight people and those who having lung problems, pneumonia, pulmonary embolus or an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism) can also experience Atrial Fibrillation.
- Chemicals exposure: Nicotine in cigarette or caffeine in some beverages like coffee and tea could be a trigger of Atrial Fibrillation.
What are symptoms of AF?
Some patient having atrial fibrillation do not recognize their condition since it does not reveal significant symptoms. For those people actually experienced atrial fibrillation symptoms, there are several signs including:
- One of the first symptoms of AF is breathlessness. You may feel hard to breathe or completely cannot breathe in short time period when walking or jogging.
- You can become aware of your heartbeat with thumping beat (palpitations). Your heart rate will be a lot faster than normal rate. This irregular heart rhythm is the first common sign of any arrhythmia related conditions. Also, the force of each heartbeat might vary in intensity.
- Many people may feel dizziness since the reduction of blood pumping to the heart and blood pooling on the lungs’ veins.
- Chest pain is another common symptom of AF. This condition does not only happen when you exercise or do hard chores, it also appears when you’re sleeping or relaxing.
What can I do to treat AF?
If you notice any symptoms above, you should seek healthcare providers for AF treatments. Your doctor may perform some of these treatments:
- Rate control
- Rhythm control
- Anticoagulation treatment which aims to prevent a stroke
- Taking medicines to prevent clots forming
In order to prevent AF, it’s never too late to start a healthy lifestyle with healthy diet, regular exercises and avoid unhealthy chemical exposure (like smoking).
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnose or treatment.
Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017
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What Is Atrial Fibrillation?. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/af. Accessed September 26, 2016.
Atrial Fibrillation. https://medlineplus.gov/atrialfibrillation.html#summary. Accessed September 26, 2016.
Atrial Fibrillation. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/atrial-fibrillation/symptoms-causes/dxc-20164936. Accessed September 26, 2016.