Atrial fibrillation is an erratic and often rapid heart rhythm due to abnormal electrical impulses in the upper heart chambers. The irregularity might be continuous or only come and go.
What are the causes?
Atrial fibrillation might arise without any underlying heart disease. This is prevalent among young individuals.
Some of the causes where there is no heart involvement include:
- Overactive thyroid
- Pulmonary embolism
- Alcohol consumption
Generally, atrial fibrillation arises as an outcome of some other heart condition such as:
- Heart valve disease
- Coronary heart disease
- Enlargement of the left ventricular wall
- High blood pressure
- Sick sinus syndrome
- Advancing age
When to consult a doctor for atrial fibrillation?
It is vital to seek treatment within 24 hours if atrial fibrillation comes and goes, previously assessed and treated and not experiencing shortness of breath, chest pain, fainting or weakness.
In case atrial fibrillation is persistent while under therapy for the condition, a doctor must be consulted, especially if the symptoms become worsen or new signs such as mild shortness of breath or fatigue manifests.
Call for emergency assistance if atrial fibrillation arises with the following symptoms:
- Chest pain
- Severe shortness of breath
- Lightheadedness or fainting
- Rapid heartbeat or palpitations
- Low blood pressure
Remember that not all palpitations are considered as atrial fibrillation, but a continuous sensation of heart fluttering in the chest along with rapid or slow pulse must be assessed by a doctor.