Atrial fibrillation is best described as an electrical disorder involving the upper chambers of the heart. This condition can increase the risk for heart-related issues and stroke. Many individuals all over the world have atrial fibrillation. If you want to learn how to properly manage this condition, click here.
Effects on the body
It is important to note that atrial fibrillation involves the upper heart chambers called the atria. This is an electrical dysfunction which results to rapid electrical signals in the heart that can reach up to a hundred beats in a minute. The rapid firing of the signals disrupt with the ability of the upper chambers to contract in an organized manner. This will lead to diminished pumping action and passive flow of blood. Take note that the blood can accumulate within the heart. In some individuals, there are no symptoms while others experience a variety of symptoms. Atrial fibrillation can also increase the risk for heart-related issues and even stroke.
In some individuals with atrial fibrillation, there is the build-up of fluid in the ankles, legs and feet. The other symptoms include lightheadedness, weight gain and generalized malaise. In some, there is irritability and increased exertion when engaging in routine activities.
Once the electrical system of the heart is disrupted, the heart chambers lose their rhythm. The usual symptom of atrial fibrillation is the sensation that the heart is flopping within the chest or beating in an irregular manner. The individual is well aware of his/her own heartbeat.
Over time, the heart will weaken and malfunction. The ineffective contractions of the heart will cause blood to pool in the atria which increases the risk for clotting. As a consequence, the individual can experience low blood pressure, shortness of breath and chest pain. During an episode, the pulse feels as if it is racing, beating erratically or beating slowly. Remember that heart failure occurs once the heart loses its capability to circulate adequate blood all over the body.
The lungs need a constant supply of blood to function optimally. An erratic pumping action of the heart can cause fluid to back up into the lungs. The symptoms include difficulty engaging in physical activities, shortness of breath and fatigue.
Central nervous system
Atrial fibrillation will increase the risk for stroke. Once the heart could no longer contract properly, blood will accumulate in the atria which increase the risk for clot formation. When the heart pumps, the clot can travel up to the brain where it can block the flow of blood, thus resulting to an embolic stroke.
The early indications of stroke include slurred speech and severe headache. If an individual has atrial fibrillation, the risk of stroke increases as he/she starts to age. Other risk factors for stroke include high blood pressure, diabetes, previous stroke or history of heart problems. The use of blood thinners can help reduce the risk.