Atrial fibrillation (AF) is an abnormal heart rhythm characterised by rapid and irregular beating. This may result in heart failure in acute and chronic settings. AF also predisposes a patient to blood clot formation in the atrial, particularly the left atrial appendage. In an event of clot embolization from the heart to the brain, stroke occurs.
Patients may feel palpitations, chest discomfort, exercise intolerance, shortness of breath, fainting spells or giddiness.
Treatment and control of the underlying medical/cardiac problems may help to prevent the onset of atrial fibrillation. These include good blood pressure control, reducing cardiovascular risk factors, moderation of alcohol intake and curative treatment of valvular heart disease.
Common causes of AF are valvular heart disease, ischemic heart disease, hypertension, Diabetes Mellitus, hyperthyroidism, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, sleep apnea and excessive alcohol intake.