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Atrial Fibrillation

An irregular and rapid heart rate that resulting in poor blood flow to the body is known as atrial fibrillation. In this condition the heart's upper chambers do not beat in coordination with the two lower chambers, that is, they beat in a chaotic and irregular manner.

Causes for atrial fibrillation are

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attacks
  • Abnormal heart valves
  • congenital heart defects
  • An overactive thyroid gland
  • Heart's natural pacemaker does not perform properly
  • Emphysema or other lung diseases
  • Previous heart surgery
  • Viral infections

The symptoms related to atrial fibrillation are

  • Heart palpitations
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Dizziness
  • Chest discomfort
  • Shortness of breath

Treatments for atrial fibrillation are

  • Resetting your heart's rhythm:

    The ideal way of treating atrial fibrillation is to reset the heart rate and rhythm to normal. The procedure used to do this is known as Cardioversion and it can be done in two ways:

    • Cardioversion with drugs: This form of cardioversion uses medicines known as anti-arrhythmics to help restore normal sinus rhythm. These medications can be given intravenously or orally depending on the condition of the heart.
    • Electrical cardioversion: In this procedure an electrical shock is delivered to the heart through paddles or patches placed on your chest and the shock stops the heart's electrical activity momentarily. When your heart begins again it resumes its normal rhythm.
  • Radiofrequency catheter ablation: Radiofrequency energy is directed to hot spots which is an abnormal pacemaker cell that fire so rapidly that the upper chambers of the heart quiver instead of beating efficiently. A catheter is inserted in an artery near the groin and threaded up to the heart and this catheter is used to destroy these hot spots thus normalizing the erratic electrical signals are normalized. This treats the arrhythmia without the need for medications or implantable devices.
  • Surgical maze procedure: Using a scalpel several precise incisions are made in the upper chambers of the heart to create a pattern of scar tissue, as these tissues doesn't carry electricity; it interferes with stray electrical impulses that cause atrial fibrillation. The maze procedure is performed during an open-heart surgery.