Atrial fibrillation occurs when the normal, regular, synchronous action of the upper chambers of the heart becomes chaotic, rapid, and inefficient.
Some who go into atrial fibrillation know it right away because they feel bad-they feel what we doctors term palpitations: their heart beating rapidly or irregularly (fluttering). They may have other symptoms associated with this such as dizziness, chest pain or shortness of breath. Many, however, go into atrial fibrillation and are not aware of it.
The first symptom they feel may be a stroke due to a clot developing in the upper chambers of the heart dislodging and going down an artery to the brain,
Patients may wonder “Why Did I Go Into Atrial Fibrillation”
And they may also be interested in “Why I Favor The Restoration and Maintenance of Sinus Rhythm For Most Patients With Atrial Fibrillation.”
Given the increased stroke risk, if you have afib you should definitely read my post on “Which Patients Should Take Blood Thinners.” which will give you an idea of which blood thinner (anticoagulant) to take.
Posts on Diagnosing Atrial fibrillation
TIAs and silent atrial fibrillation. Sometimes strokes present in unusual ways, like the inability to differentiated a spade from a diamond when playing bridge and afib is often the cause.
Estimating Stroke Risk in Patients With Atrial Fibrillation You can estimate your stroke risk using an app that utilizes the CHAD2DS2-VASc score. I prefer to call the Lip score.
Posts About Using Personal Devices To Diagnose Atrial Fibrillation
Two That Work Well
- AliveCor’s Kardia
2. Apple Watch 4 and higher
Devices/Apps to avoid for AF detection
Posts About Treatment Of Atrial Fibrillation
How Obesity Causes Atrial Fibrillation in Fat Sheep and how Losing Weight can reduce the recurrence of atrial fibrillation.
Drug Therapy: Rate Control and Anticoagulation
Foxglove Equipoise. When William Withering began treating patients suffering from dropsy in 1775 with various preparations of the foxglove plant he wasn’t sure if he would help or hurt them. After 240 years of treatment, we are still unsure if the drug obtained from foxglove is useful.
Should Digoxin Still Be Used in Atrial Fibrillation? Recent studies suggest that we should not.
Why Does the TV Tell Me Xarelto Is A BAD Drug? Anticoagulant drugs that prevent the bad clots that cause stroke also increase bleeding risk. A bleeding complication is not a valid reason to sue the manufacturer. The lawsuit are strictly a money-making tactic for sleazy lawyers.
Drug Therapy: Antiarrhythmic Drugs for Maintenance of Sinus Rhythm
If lifestyle changes alone can’t control atrial fibrillation, I am an advocate of enlightened use of medications (antiarrhythmic medications or AADs) that can safely restore and maintain the normal sinus rhythm long term.
My three-part series on “enlightened medical management of AF”:
Cardioversion and Ablation
We can shock (cardiovert) the heart back to normal rhythm with little risk and very high success rate when performed by experienced and enlightened cardiologists. Keeping the rhythm normal after successful cardioversion is a bigger challenge (see above) and when medications and lifestyle changes fail an invasive procedure (ablation) is an option for some patients. Ablation should not be considered a cure for AF as recurrence is common and successfull ablation has not been shown to lower stroke risk thus anticoagulants are still recommended lifelong after the procedure.
Take a look at this video to get a good understanding of what happens in atrial fibrillation:.
The first symptom of afib may be a stroke due to a clot developing in the upper chambers of the heart dislodging and going down an artery to the brain, a process beautifully (seriously, this is really wonderful and the narrator has a great British accent) animated in this video:
This page was updated last 1/10/2020