The heartbeat is regulated by an electrical system that tells the heart to contract and pump blood. With atrial fibrillation, or AFib, the upper chambers of the heart contract fast and irregularly due to rapid and disorganized electrical signals. AFib is the most common type of arrhythmia, and it often has no symptoms other than an irregular heartbeat , which may be heard during a yearly physical. While AFib may not have significant symptoms, it can cause serious complications such as a higher risk of stroke or heart failure. Below you can learn more about this condition to better understand your treatment options with AFib.
What Happens in AFib?
Atrial fibrillation occurs when electrical signals don’t travel through the heart normally. Causes for AFib may include damage to the heart from other conditions like high blood pressure, or it may occur without clear causes.
What Are the Risk Factors?
Millions of people have atrial fibrillation, and it is most often diagnosed in older adults. People with coronary heart disease, heart failure, structural heart defects, pericarditis, or hypertension are most likely to have AFib, because these conditions damage the heart and cause irregularities in its electrical system. Heavy drinking, psychological stress, and heavy caffeine use can also contribute to atrial fibrillation.
What Kind of Treatment Is Available?
There are several concerns with treating AFib . Medication may be used for several purposes—including blood clot prevention and heart rhythm control. Some procedures can also be effective for managing AFib. Electrical cardioversion is one procedure that delivers low-energy shocks to restore normal blood flow.
If you have been diagnosed with AFib or an irregular heartbeat, Regional Medical Center of San Jose can provide the specialized care you need with our Cardiac Rhythm Services. You can find one of our cardiac physicians on our website or by calling (408) 259-4000 to speak with one of our registered nurses.