Atrial fibrillation, Afib or simple AF occurs when a person’s heart rate is irregular and often beats rapidly which can substantially increase the risk of heart failure, strokes and other heart complications. The two upper chambers of the heart (the atria) will beat erratically and irregularly, completely out of coordination with the lower chambers (the ventricles).
For sufferers of AF, the symptoms may come and go, however, the symptoms could develop and either get worse or never disappear, that’s when it’s important to seek treatment for atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation by itself isn’t usually fatal, however, it’s a serious medical condition that can affect the rest of your body and may require emergency treatment.
If you’re unsure about whether you may be at risk of AF, we’re going to help you determine the symptoms and if you’re at risk of developing it.
Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation
Certains sufferers of AF are unaware of their condition until a physical exam and exhibit no symptoms. However, for those who do have AF, they will signs and symptoms such as:
- Heart palpitations, making the heart race and cause an irregular heartbeat
- Fatigue and weakness
- Reduced ability to endure physical activities
- Dizziness and lightheadedness
- Chest pains and shortness of breath
It’s always important to book an appointment in with a physician if you experience any of the above symptoms. If you’re worried, you can immediately use a home ECG kit to test your heart.
Atrial Fibrillation Risk Factors
There are many possible causes of atrial fibrillation, damage to the heart or abnormalities are the most common causes, however, other possible causes are:
- Heart attacks
- High blood pressure
- Abnormal valves in the heart
- Congenital heart diseases
- Metabolic imbalances such as an overactive thyroid
- Coronary artery disease
- The heart’s natural pacemaker is functioning incorrectly (sick sinus syndrome)
- Heavy exposure to stimulants such as nicotine, caffeine, alcohol and drugs.
- High levels of stress and anxiety
There are certain factors involved that may affect your chances of developing atrial fibrillation and they include:
- Age: atrial fibrillation is more common in older patients, the older you get, the higher chance there is to develop it.
- Heart diseases: patients that have suffered from heart valve issues, heart disease, congenital heart disease, coronary artery disease, have had a heart attack or had open-heart surgery are at an increased risk of developing Afib.
- Blood pressure: if your blood pressure is high, without being maintained by either strict lifestyle adjustments or medications, there’s a greater risk of AF developing.
- Chronic conditions: sleep apnea, thyroid conditions, diabetes and lung disease can increase your chances of atrial fibrillation.
- Excessive alcohol intake: consuming large amounts of alcohol and binge drinking can put you at a significantly higher risk of AF.
Is Afib Hereditary
Family history can play a big part in whether you can develop atrial fibrillation. While the risk factors above can significantly increase the chances of developing atrial fibrillation, there are common genetic variants that may be passed through generations in families; creating a higher risk to those that inherit those genes.