Healthy Heart

What are The Signs and Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation?

What are The Signs and Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation?

Key Takeaways

  • Alcohol use is a cause of Atrial Fibrillation.
  • There are many causes of Atrial Fibrillation that originate from our lifestyles.
  • Stroke can be caused by Atrial Fibrillation.

What are The Signs and Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation also called A-Fib is a condition of the heart which causes irregular heartbeats or arrhythmia. It causes abnormal vibrations in the atria chamber of the heart and also the ventricle chamber. In a healthy human heart, the electrical impulses stimulate the atria and excite it which in turn contracts. While, in this condition the atria vibrates in an uneven manner (shakes) causing a loss of co-ordination with the rhythmic movement of the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles).  

As a result of these irregular electrical impulses, there is failure in the normal functioning of the heart.It causes an irregular heart beat and pulse which may be an abrupt incident or n chronic issue.

Atrial fibrillation is known to cause fear and confusion among the patients. It can also cause blood clot which in some cases may lead to a stroke. Some of the factors that cause atrial fibrillation may include:

    • Thyroid diseases such as Thyrotoxicosis

    • Diabetes Mellitus

    • Pneumonia

    • Excess alcohol use or Alcohol Abuse

    • Coronary infections and Atherosclerosis

    • Obesity

    • Excessive smoking

    • Hypertension

    • Lung diseases such as Emphysema or COPD

    • Sleep apnea or other Sleep disorders

Atrial fibrillation comes in different types which include:

    • Occasional-It is also called paroxysmal. Sudden increase in the heart rate accompanied by mild or serious symptoms. It does not last for long (commonly not more than 24 hours). Within a few days the condition stops.

    • Persistent-It requires some treatment to stop unlike occasional which stops on its own. The symptoms in this condition may last for 7 days and even more. Can be treated through medications or electrical shock though in some cases it may stop without any of them.

    • Permanent-It is a very persistent condition that a person can live with for a long time. Here, both the occasional and persistent conditions recur over time and medications are unable to alleviate the symptoms.

General Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation

Although in several cases the condition remains asymptomatic for a long time, the following are the main symptoms a patient with atrial fibrillation can experience:

    • Pain in the abdomen

    • Feeling tiredness(Fatigue)

    • General body weakness

    • Feeling when the heart is beating like a rapid throbbing sensation

    • Experiencing shortened breath(particularly during exercise or physical stress)

    • Discomfort and pain around the chest

    • High sensitivity to light

    • Dizziness and fainting

    • Too much sweating

    • Confusion

    • Palpitations of the heart

Who are at a Higher Risk of Having Atrial Fibrillation?

A-Fib is an infection that can affect any person. However, the risks of having the condition increase with time. Older people have the highest risk of getting atrial fibrillation. According to research, around 11% of persons aged from 80years and above suffer from a kind of arrhythmia.
Other people in the risk of having this infection are those that have had other heart related issues. Diabetes is one of the leading causes of this disease. Poor dietary intake and lack of a proper exercise routine add to the risk of developing this disease at any age.

Abuse of illegal narcotics such as Methamphetamines and Cocaine has also been seen to 

Signs of Atrial Fibrillation Stroke

Atrial fibrillation is a condition known to cause stroke in cases where the clot gets to the blood stream. This happens especially when clotted blood in the atria travels to the brain and blocks the blood vessel supplying it (Ischemic stroke). The symptoms of a stroke vary from of person to the other. Some experience the symptoms at a very fastrate while for othersthey may appear slowly.
The symptoms of a stroke are always summarized as a mnemonic in a single word – F.A.S.T.

    • Face-These are symptoms that mostly affect the face. They will cause one side of the face to drop. Other areas such as the mouth or eyes may drop as well. The patient is no longer able to smile.This indicates a paralysis of the portion affected.

    • Arms-Affects the arms. If you are suffering from a stroke, you cannot be able to lift your hands for a long time. This is as a result of weakness or numbness of one arm.

    • Speech-This is where the effects of the condition are very harsh. You will realize that the patient will have problems speaking. The speech can be garbled or slurred.

    • Time-This is the most critical part where the body is not able to function and the patient has to call for help.

All of the above symptoms are a forewarning to a full-fledged stroke thus immediate medical attention should be provided. A single minute of delay could prove to be detrimental to the patient.

Risk Factor for Atrial Fibrillation

Risk factors for atrial fibrillation are categorized into two categories: Controllable and non-controllable factors.
Controllable factors include:

    • Alcohol abuse

    • High amounts of cholesterol in the body

    • Smoking

    • Heart complications like Cardiomyopathy or Coronary Artery disease

    • High intake of caffeine

    • Overweight

Non-controllable factors include:

    • A family history concerning atrial fibrillation infection or any such heart ailment

    • Aging

    • Birth disorders(Congenital defects)

The Bottom Line

Although there is no remedy for the non – controllable factors, if the rest of them are checked and managed correctly it could prevent any such deadly disease like A-fib. Maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle with daily physical training is essential.

Signs and symptoms of atrial fibrillation can sometimes be confused with those that are caused by other infections such as heart infections or lung infections. If you suspect any of these symptoms you should contact a doctor immediately.Sometimes there might be symptoms which heal on their own in a short span; this might be a TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack). TIA and a stroke are similar where the former is temporary and the later may be permanent. Hence, if any of the symptoms are doubtful do not waste any time and call the ambulance. 

Once one sees any symptoms regarding Artrial Fibrillation, one should seek medical assistance at once. A stitch in time saves nine.