What is Atrial Fibrillation?
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a condition of the heart that causes an irregular and often an abnormally fast heart rate. A regular heart should beat between 60 to 100 times a minute when resting and can be measured by feeling the pulse either in your neck or wrist. Atrial Fibrillation is associated with symptoms and a risk of stroke.
When atrial fibrillation happens, the hearts upper chambers contract randomly and often contract so fast the heart muscle can’t relax properly between contractions, reducing the hearts performance and efficiency.
Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation
In atrial fibrillation, the heart can beat very fast, and in some cases over 100 beats a minute. Other symptoms can also be experienced including:
Some people may not even know they have an irregular heart rate, particularly older people.
What causes Atrial Fibrillation?
Whilst the cause of atrial fibrillation is not fully understood, it does tend to affect those in a certain age group, usually over the age of 65 and can be triggered by certain situations including drinking too much alcohol or smoking. In addition, it can be associated with:
Are there any risks with Atrial Fibrillation?
Those who suffer from atrial fibrillation have an increased risk of having a stroke. In extreme cases, it can also lead to heart failure.
When the upper chambers in the heart do not pump efficiently, there is a risk of blood clots forming. When clots are formed and move around the blood circulation, these can block arteries in the brain and case a stroke. The risk of having a stroke with atrial fibrillation is increased by roughly 4 to 5 times.
Persistent atrial fibrillation can weaken the heart. If it is extreme, your heart may be unable to pump blood around the body efficiently, leading to heart failure.
How to treat Atrial Fibrillation
Whilst atrial fibrillation is not usually life threatening, it can be uncomfortable and may require treatment.
There are a few ways to treat it:
- Medication to prevent a stroke
- Medication to control heart rhythm
- Cardioversion to shock the heart into normal rhythm
- Catheter ablation to destroy the area inside the heart that’s causing the abnormal heart rhythm
Our group of leading Cardiologists are all experts in the diagnosis and treatment of Atrial Fibrillation.
Atrial Fibrillation Specialists
Our Heart Health specialists at OneWelbeck in London are leaders in their field. They are equipped with the latest diagnostic medical technology at custom-built, day-case facilities to investigate any symptoms and ensure you receive the best available care.
To speak with a specialist about Atrial Fibrillation, contact our team today.
We are available from Monday to Friday: 8am – 8pm.