AFib: Nuts and Bolts: Understand how AFib works.
Whats on this page:
Why is my Quality of Life so effected by AFib?
The heart rate can be too fast.
Fast heart rates cause palpitations . The heart is also less efficient as a pump if it is beating faster than it can fill. To see how this works try flushing your toilet faster than it can fill!
The heart rate is not correct during exercise.
The lack of correct heart rate is even more apparent during exercise. Often during exercise the heart beats way too fast. Sometimes it doesn't beat fast enough. Either way it is tough to exercise comfortably.
The hear beat is irregular.
Irregularity cause palpitation symptoms, but even if the heart rate is close to normal, the irregularity of the pulse reduces the filling of the heart and reduces it's PUMPING efficiency.
Atrium and Ventricle not working together.
The lack of co-ordination between the atrium and ventricles also reduces the PUMPING efficiency of the heart.
Palpitations are the most common symptom.
When a person feels the heart beat in an abnormal way, it is called palpitatons. Racing, skipping, irregularity, flopping, pounding, rumbling are some of the common terms used by patients to describe this feeling.
Palpitation symptoms that interfere with Quality of Life is one of the most common reasons that patients with AFib seek treatment.
Most patients find it difficult to exercise normally when in AFib, and some find exercise impossible. Shortness of breath, leg weakness, or palpitations may limit exercise.
This is the term that describes a general sensation of not feeling good. Fatigue, even at rest, lack of ambition, and lack of strength can occur from many conditions including AFib and some of it's treatments.
Unfortunately, stroke can occur as the first sign of AFib, before any other symptoms are apparent.
AFib can also aggravate symptoms of other heart problems such as coronary artery disease and cause chest discomfort.
You probably have more AFib than you feel.
Silent AFib is common.
There are many people who have their heart rhythm monitored constantly. This includes people who wear long term heart rhythm monitors and patients who have pacemakers. Pacemakers can make recordings of all abnormal heart rhythms that occur. These devices show that AFib occurs commonly when patients do not feel it.
Silent AFib after treatment.
Silent AFib can also occur after treatment for AFib with drugs and ablation. This is why patients who are at high risk of stroke are not recommended to stop warfarin or other oral anticoagulants after what appears to be successful therapy.
Aggravators of AFib.
These conditions are usually not the root cause of AFib, but they sure make AFib more likely to show itself.
Sleep Apnea is very important.
Sleep apnea is common. It makes AFib symptoms occur more frequently. It makes AFib harder to treat. Some patients with Sleep Apnea have symptoms of snoring or drowsiness in the afternoon. Many patients with Sleep Apnea do not snore or have apparent symptoms. Patients with AFib should be tested for Sleep Apnea. An overnight oxegen saturation test at home is a good place to start. Sleep studies in a hospital or diagnostic center is sometimes needed. Treating Sleep Apnea can make AFib easier to control.
Binges of alcohol use are well known to bring on AFib. If you have AFib do not drink excessively. Some patients are sensitive to even small amounts of alcohol and find they cannot drink at all.
Obesity and Lack of Exercise.
Weight loss and exercise will make a difference in controlling the symptoms of AFib.
If you have hypertension and AFib it is very important to control the Blood Pressure well to reduce symptoms and to slow the progression of AFib.
Diagnosing AFib on an ECG is crucial.
If symptoms last long enough, an ECG can be performed in the doctors office or hospital. When episodes are fleeting "ambulatory monitoring can be performed. By monitoring the heart rhythm constantly for a prolonged period of time, the chances are good that a recording can be obtained of the abnormal rhythm.
Many conditions cause rapid or irregular heart beating.
Symptoms that feels like AFib may not be AFib. Other heart rhythms are common even in patients with a history of AFib. Atrial Flutter, Atrial Tachycardia, and even Sinus Tachycardia, or Premature beats can mimic the symptoms of AFib.
Cardiac Event Monitors.
This is a device about the size of a cell phone used with 2 or 3 electrodes on the skin that is worn continuously for up to a month. Heart rhythms are transmitted to a center where they are analyzed and sent to your doctor. This is the most common way used to diagnose heart arrhythmias.
Implantable Loop Recorders.
Cardiac event monitor may not diagnose the problem when symptoms occur very infrequently. A small device placed under the skin can record episodes of fast or slow heart rhythms over several years.
Start with Normal Rhythm Diagram.
Explain AFib simply in a Diagram?
How is my Quality of Life Affected?
What are common Symptoms?
What causes AFib?
What aggravates AFib?
Diagnosing AFib: Heart Monitors.
Meet the Family of Atrial Arrhythmias.