Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm abnormalities that people have. The electrical signals that control the heart are abnormal with this particular condition. Atrial fibrillation is often referred to as A-fib or AF. In this condition the heartbeat becomes irregular and the electrical signals in the top of the heart (the atria) are fast and chaotic.
As a result of this abnormality, the atria stops pumping blood effectively. Blood tends to pool in certain areas of the atria and blood clots can form. These blood clots can travel through the blood vessels to the brain causing stroke. Atrial fibrillation can be there all the time or can come and go. So, a patient can feel irregular beating and at other times the heart rhythm is normal.
Atrial fibrillation can be controlled by reducing caffeine intake, controlling blood pressure, limiting alcohol consumption to a drink or two, treating an overactive thyroid, and getting regular exercise.
There may be no symptoms from atrial fibrillation. Patients that do experience symptoms that may feel a racing heart, skipping beats, beating out of sync, chest tightness, lightheaded, dizzy or may feel like they are going to pass out. Some people have trouble breathing and cannot exercise much.
Atrial fibrillation is usually diagnosed with an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG). The EKG measures the heart’s electrical activity. Other tests may include some blood tests looking for thyroid or liver problems, an echocardiogram, an ultrasound picture of the heart looking at the heart’s pumping function and checking the heart valves out. Also, a stress test on heart may also be performed to check the heart’s circulation