What is Atrial Fibrillation? – Get The Facts

The heart consists of four chambers. The upper chambers are referred as the right and the left atria and the lower chambers are called the right and left ventricles. The heart’s pumping action is regulated by electrical pulses that originate from the Sino-atrial (SA) node located in the right atrium. The Impulses from SA node which is also pace checker, then travels the atrioventricular (AV) node, which is also another heart pace checker. Antrionvecular node subsequently conducts the impulses to the ventricles. This results in good coordination of pumping action of the heart.

Blood from the right ventricle goes into the pulmonary system to get oxygen whilst blood from the left ventricle is pumped to the rest of the body. A normal heart has a regular, constant rhythm that’s beat at about sixty to a hundred times in a minute.


What is Atrial Fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation (FA) is a common arrhythmia that results to abnormality in rhythm of the heart. Arrhythmia is a problem with the rate or the rhythm of the heartbeat. During AF a heart may beat too slow, too fast or with an irregular rhythm. Atrial condition often occurs if there are rapid or disorganized electrical signals from the left and right atria. When upper chambers fibrillate (contract very fast and irregularly) they cause the abnormality in the heartbeat. If an individual has an atrial fibrillation disorder, the electrical impulses do not arise normally from the SA node and instead many impulses, begins simultaneously from the SA node and spread through the upper chambers competing for a chance to travel through the AV node. Because of this abnormality, the impulses cause a very disorganized, rapid irregular heartbeat.

The rate of the impulses trough the atrial range from three hundred to six hundred beats per minutes. However, since the impulses pass through the AV node, they get slowed to resulting in a pulse rate that is less than 150 beats per minute.


Classification of Atrial Fibrillation

Paroxysmal AF condition means that episodes of AF stop spontaneously and usually from 3 to 7 days.

Persistent AF condition has episodes of atrial fibrillation that more than a week.

Non-valvular AF refers to AF that occurs in the absence of any disease involving the heart valves.

Permanent AF condition refers to AF that has failed to convert to normal rhythm.

Lone AF refers to AF occurring in children with no clinical evidence of a significant disease that can cause this condition.


What Are the Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation?

Some of the individuals who have atrial fibrillation may be totally asymptomatic. However, other individuals may have the following symptoms; chest discomfort, palpitations, giddiness, shortness of breath and fatigue.
The risk of atrial fibrillation includes, but not limited to increasing age, obesity, metabolic syndrome, chronic renal disease, diabetes mellitus, heart failure, hypertension and hyper-lipidaemia.


Why is Atrial Fibrillation Dangerous?

We hope that you have understood exactly what is atrial fibrillation? But is this condition dangerous? Yes, it is very dangerous because it raises the risk of strokes significantly. If a person has AF condition, he/she is 3 to 5 times more likely to have strokes than a person who does not atrial fibrillation. A doctor can help you to manage this condition by performing a physical examination through the use of electrocardiograms, chest x-rays and blood tests. The doctors usually manage the AF condition by slowing down the heart rate, restoring and maintaining the normal heartbeat and to preventing stroke.