Atrial Fibrillation, also known as AFib, is a condition that affects the heart’s ability to properly pump blood.
In a normal heart, the top part of the heart known as the atria contracts, followed by the bottom part known as the ventricles. The timing of these contractions move blood. In an AFib patient, the electrical signals that control this process no longer work properly. These two parts of the heart no longer work together in unison.
Because blood is not moving through the heart as it should, a patient with AFib is at greater risk for heart failure. This condition can also cause blood to accumulate in the left atrial appendage (LAA) and increase the risk of a blood clot.A blood clot that escapes from the LAA can travel to other parts of the body, potentially cutting off blood supply to the brain and result in a stroke.
AFib is more common in people 60 years of age and older. It may also be the result of other heart conditions such as blood pressure induced heart disease, heart valve disease, heart muscle disease, also known as cardiomyopathy, a congenital heart defect, heart failure and a previous heart surgery.
Certain medications can also increase an individual’s risk, as well as medical conditions sucy as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), an overactive thyroid and sleep apnea.
Symptoms of AFib may include dizziness, weakness and fatigue. Treatment depends on the severity of the condition and the cause of the condition. It may include lifestyle modifications, medication and/or surgical intervention.
In patients with non valvular AFib and who cannot take blood thinners, a procedure known as WATCHMAN™ may be a good alternative to prevent stroke.