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Atrial Fibrillation: Complications addressed early may save lives

Heart palpitations, shortness of breath and weakness may signal Atrial Fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is a condition of the heart characterized by rapid heart-beat with increased risk of stroke, heart failure and other complications. In this condition, the upper two chambers of the heart (the atria) beat irregularly, this is against the normal beat of the two lower chambers (ventricles). The complications of atrial fibrillation can be seen as blood clots in the heart, leading to blocked blood flow (ischemia). Treatments and medications for atrial fibrillation try to alter the heart’s electrical system

Causes

Atrial fibrillation is a condition where the heart’s electrical signals are disturbed. The sinus node located between the upper atria, and lower ventricles produces impulses for continuous heart-beat. In the atrial fibrillation condition, the heart experiences chaotic electrical signals.

Atrial fibrillation may happen due to high blood pressure, heart attacks, coronary artery disease, abnormal heart valves, congenital heart disease, thyroid or metabolic imbalance, exposure to medications, improper functioning of heart’s natural pacemaker, lung diseases, viral infections, pneumonia, and sleep apnea.

Atrial Fibrillation

Symptoms

Symptoms of Atrial fibrillation may vary from person to person. In general, symptoms are evident as palpitations, weakness, reduced ability to exercise, fatigue, lightheadedness, dizziness, confusion, shortness of breath, and chest pain. The occurrence of atrial fibrillation is different in different people. Occasional atrial fibrillation also called paroxysmal atrial fibrillation lasts for a few minutes to hours and stops on its own.

In case of persistent atrial fibrillation, an electrical shock or medications are needful to restore the heart’s rhythm. In the case of long-standing persistent atrial fibrillation, the heart beat is continuous and lasts longer. In permanent atrial fibrillation, there is permanent damage to the heart, as the heart rhythm cannot be restored, but continuous medications may help to a great extent.

Risk factors and complications

The risk factors and complications of atrial fibrillation includes,

  • Coronary artery disease
  • Heart valve disease
  • Rheumatic heart disease
  • Heart failure
  • Weakened heart muscle (cardiomyopathy)
  • Heart birth defects
  • Inflamed membrane or sac around the heart (pericarditis)
  • Sick sinus syndrome
  • Heart attack

Tests and diagnosis

Proper diagnosis helps in identifying Atrial Fibrillation, and provides the way for availing the right course of treatment. Different tests prescribed by the doctor to diagnose the condition includes, Electrocardiogram (ECG), Holter monitor, Event recorder, Echocardiogram, Blood tests, Stress test, and Chest X-ray. The basic focus of all these tests is to know the condition of the heart, and its functioning.

Treatments and drugs

The treatment for atrial fibrillation is two-fold, which includes efforts to reset the heart’s rhythm, and prevention of blood clots. Two procedures are adopted to reset the heart’s rhythm. Electrical cardioversion is the process where an electrical shock is delivered the heart. Cardioversion is a focused drug administration activity. Intravenous or oral medications return the heart to normal rhythm. Blood clots during atrial fibrillation can lead to stroke, which can be effectively treated by use of blood-thinning medications.

Yashoda Heart Institute specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of all conditions of the heart and vascular system with state-of-the-art technology and expertise that is unmatched in the region. The cardio-thoracic expertise of the Institute includes, Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG), Off Pump CABG on beating heart, On Pump CABG, Total Arterial CABG, MICAS, CABG for LV dysfunction, Valvular Heart surgery, Valve Replacement Surgery, Valve Repairs, Congenital Heart Surgery, Thoracic Surgery, Carotid Surgery & Peripheral Vascular Surgery, and Surgery for Cardiac Arrhythmia.

Pioneered by an experienced team of doctors and surgeons, Yashoda’s Heart Institute has earned national and international recognition for completing more than 40,000 heart procedures. The Institute is the first Inter-State Heart transplantation in the region, and leads in minimally invasive cardiac surgeries.

Yashoda Heart Institute is the leading Centre for Heart-Lung Transplantations in the region. We have a dedicated Heart Rhythm Clinic. We specialize in PTE procedures in Pulmonary Embolism in collaboration with surgeons of Duke University, USA. We are renowned for our world-class facilities for Ventricular Assist Devices (VADs), Pacemaker and ICDs implantations.

Know more about symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment of Atrial Fibrillation.