A form of cardiac disorder, atrial fibrillation causes rapid and irregular heart rate. Usually, the resting heart beats for approximately 60 to 100 times a minute. On the contrary, when a person is affected by atrial fibrillation their heart rate can be prominently higher. This condition occurs when the atria (the upper two chambers of the heart) suffers from unsystematic signals that cause the heart walls to quiver. This behavior can considerably affect the heart’s blood pumping system and prevent the heart from functioning properly. If such malfunctions occur on frequent occasions, then it can also enhance the risk of other cardiovascular diseases.
Apart from palpitations and irregular pulse rate, atrial fibrillation is characterized by signs and symptoms such as fatigue, sweating, discomfort in the chest, shortness of breath, anxiety, confusion, and abdominal pain. Not every patient will experience all the stated symptoms. Likewise, they will also differ in terms of severity and frequency. In some cases, individuals do not experience any signs, which can make it a bit difficult to diagnose. It is also important to note that the atrial fibrillation and heart attacks share some common symptoms. Therefore, when the symptoms start projecting, it is vital to seek medical help immediately.
Causes of atrial fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation ensues when damage befalls in the electrical system of the heart. However, this can stem from various other medical conditions. At times, it can get difficult for cardiologists to pinpoint the exact cause. However, after diagnosing the disease, the doctors can effectively help you alleviate the symptoms.
The following are some of the common causes of atrial fibrillation.
The onset of atrial fibrillation is strongly related to age. The older a person gets, the greater is the risk of acquiring it. This probability increases when one is over the age of 60. Atrial fibrillation is uncommon among young individuals and children; however, if an underlying cardiovascular condition is in the picture, they might develop this disorder.
Dealing with high blood pressure for a prolonged period can significantly affect the heart and lead to disorders like atrial fibrillation.
A severe cardiovascular disease, cardiomyopathy occurs when the muscles of the heart suffer from inflammation, which ends up affecting its functioning.
- Coronary heart disease
Coronary arteries are responsible for providing blood and oxygen to the heart muscles. The coronary heart condition arises when plaque accumulates inside these arteries, which eventually affects the blood supply to the heart. Such poor distribution of blood can lead to atrial fibrillation.
- Mitral valve disease
This condition leads to an anomalous blood leakage through the mitral valve. The blood travels to the left atrium from the left ventricle of the heart.
The pericardium is a lining around the heart that protects it. Pericarditis is a condition where this lining gets inflamed, making the heart vulnerable to several other cardiovascular issues.
- Heart surgery
Individuals who have had heart surgeries in the past are at a higher risk for atrial fibrillation.
- Congenital heart disorder
This disorder indicates issues with the heart’s structure since the time of the birth. Congenital heart disease comprises problems with the valves, blood vessels or defects in the heart’s walls. As a result, they can disrupt the normal circulation process in the heart.
- Sleep apnea
A widespread condition, sleep apnea leads to one or multiple pauses in breathing while one is asleep. Sleep apnea increases the risk of developing hypertension which consequently might activate the condition of atrial fibrillation and additional diseases.
- Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption
Tobacco and alcohol are linked to several heart diseases. This is because they increase inflammation in the body and can even cause artery blockage. Persistently being under the influence of such lifestyle habits can lead to long-term effects on the heart like atrial fibrillation.
An overactive thyroid gland can set off a number of health issues at once, primarily because of the hormonal imbalance. It can cause significant changes in the pulmonary and cardiovascular functions.
- Atrial flutter
Like atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter is a condition with irregular heart rate. However, they tend to be more organized than the pulse rate projected in atrial fibrillation. At times, atrial flutter can progress to atrial fibrillation.
Consuming foods and drinks having a high amount of caffeine on a daily basis can spark off atrial fibrillation.
Apart from the causes mentioned above, diabetes, obesity, lung cancer, pulmonary embolism, emphysema (a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), metabolic syndrome, pneumonia and carbon monoxide poisoning are some other reasons for the onset of atrial fibrillation.
The symptoms of this disorder can be controlled with a combination of medical treatment and natural remedies.