Atrial Fibrillation (AF)

 

More than 10 million people in India have atrial fibrillation, making it a very common heart rhythm disorder. In AF, the heartbeat is irregular and rapid, sometimes beating as often as 300 times a minute, about four times faster than normal. Although it isn’t life threatening, A Fib can lead to other rhythm problems, chronic fatigue and congestive heart failure. Chances of having a stroke are five times higher for those with A Fib. There are a number of effective treatments to control A Fib (for consistency) and/or reduce the risk that it will cause serious health problems.

 

What’s is AF?

AF is nothing but fast beating of the upper chambers of the heart (atria).

 

What does AF cause?

Patients with AF feel severe palpitations, uneasiness in the chest and sometimes breathlessness.

 

What harm can AF cause?

The greatest harm that AF causes is Stroke or Paralytic attacks. These are due to blood clots occluding the arteries in the brain circulation. Also if the individual has a persistently high heart rate, it can cause weakness of the heart muscle.

 

Where do these blood clots come from?

These blood clots are formed in the upper chambers of the heart. Due to
AF, there is stasis of blood in the upper chambers/ atria and this causes blood clots to form. These blood clots can then migrate to the brain causing strokes.

 

How do I prevent strokes if I have AF?

One needs to take tablets called blood thinners to prevent clot formation. Elderly patients and patients with diabetes, high blood pressure and weak hearts are more likely to have strokes and so need to be on blood thinners.

 

How can AF be treated?

AF can be treated by medications prescribed by your cardiologist. Some of the patients can be cured by a procedure called Ablation in the early stages.

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