Insightsthe blog of Porter Hills
What is Atrial Fibrillation?
Julie Godfrey, RN COS-C
Nursing Clinical Manager
Porter Hills Home Care
Watch the 13 on Your Side Senior Wellness Segment on this topic.
September is a Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month
Atrial fibrillation (Afib) is an irregular and often rapid heart rate that can increase your risk of stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications.
During atrial fibrillation, the hearts two upper chambers (the atria) beat chaotically and irregularly- out of coordination with the two lower chambers (the ventricles).
In a normal heart, the sinus node (the hearts internal pacemaker), located in the atria, sends electrical impulses which cause the atria to contract and moves blood from the atria to the ventricles. This impulse then travels to the ventricles which will cause contraction of the ventricles, pushing blood from the heart to lungs to be re-oxygenated, or out to the body to deliver oxygen.
During episodes of atrial fibrillation, the atria will beat chaotically and irregular, out of coordination with the two lower chambers. This can cause feelings of heart palpitations, shortness of breath, weakness and dizziness.
If left untreated, afib can lead to the formations of blood clots in the heart that could circulate to other organs in the body and lead to blocked blood flow to organs.
Possible causes of atrial fibrillation-Abnormalities or damage to the heart’s structure are the most common causes. However, in some people there is no known cause or the cause is unclear.
Other possible causes of afib include:
- High blood pressure
- Heart attacks
- Coronary artery disease
- Abnormal heart valves
- Exposure to stimulants such as medications, caffeine, tobacco or alcohol
- Eating a heart healthy diet
- Increasing your physical activity
- Avoid smoking
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Limiting caffeine and alcohol consumption
- Reducing stress
For more information visit The American Heart Association online.