Atrial Fibrillation or AF for short causes a person’s heart to beat faster because of the two atria of the heart beating erratically and out of sync with the two lower chambers of the heart, also known as the ventricles.
Afib is a very serious medical condition, which may require emergency treatment if not kept in check. One of the major concerns with AF is that the heart may develop blood clots in the atria and then the clots may circulate to other organs within the body, leading to ischemia.
If you or a loved one is concerned that they may have atrial fibrillation, there are many symptoms to look out for. Keeping an eye out for these symptoms will drastically reduce the risk of AF developing further and causing severe heart complications.
You may be worried that you have Afib, those that do will often experience symptoms such as heart palpitations, which cause an uncomfortable racing of the heart. An irregular heartbeat may also be present when suffering from the symptoms of AF.
It’s common to feel weak and fatigued as a symptom of AF, your body may feel like it’s lacking in energy, which can also limit your ability for physical activities and exercise. Your body may also experience tightness in the chest that causes chest pains and shortness of breath, alongside the feeling of dizziness and lightheadedness.
What Causes Atrial Fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation occurs when the electrical impulses in the upper chamber of the heart act erratically and unstably, causing the atria to quiver. The body’s natural pacemaker—the AV node, is overloaded with impulses that are trying to reach the ventricles from the atria. The ventricles will also beat quite rapidly, however, not as rapidly as the atria because not all of the electrical impulses make their way through.
There are a few possible causes of Afib; abnormalities in the heart or damage to the heart’s structure are often the common cause of AF.
The causes of atrial fibrillation include:
- A heart attack: one of the leading causes of AF, a heart attack can cause significant damage to the heart, making suffers from a heart attack more susceptible to Afib.
- Congenital heart defects: if you’re born with a heart defect, you may have a weaker heart, causing any number of heart complications such as a leaky valve. This puts you at greater risk of atrial fibrillation.
- Thyroid issues: an overactive thyroid and other metabolic imbalances can cause serious problems for your heart, making you at greater risk to develop AF.
- Sick sinus syndrome: the body’s AV node is a natural pacemaker and it’s required to be fully functioning for the heart to do its job properly. If your heart’s natural pacemaker isn’t functioning up to its highest ability, it can cause complications such as Afib.
- Heart surgeries: if you’ve had open-heart surgery or any major heart surgeries, it can put you at greater risk of developing an infection and also AF.
- Physical stress: the trauma and stress that’s caused by pneumonia, surgery or other illnesses can heighten your chances of developing Afib.
- Sleep apnea: the breathing disorder while sleeping can lead to a heart attack, heart arrhythmias or a stroke. If you suffer from sleep apnea, you’re at a greater risk of developing atrial fibrillation.
Monitoring Your Heart
If you’re encountering any of the above symptoms, it’s always important to find a qualified physician that can examine your heart and symptoms. You can check your heart rate at home through many tools that can give you a reading prior to visiting a doctor.