Atrial Fibrillation can be understood as any abnormal rhythm in the beating of the heart. Atrial Fibrillation might or might not be fatal. Most metabolic or physical causes that can induce pressure or strain on the heart can cause Atrial Fibrillation. This includes common factors like high blood pressure to more serious diseases like Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) and various types of cardiovascular or heart valve diseases, particularly diseases of the mitral valve. It should be noted that a Heart Attack is usually the causative agent of Atrial Fibrillation. Other causes that are known to cause atrial fibrillation include lung diseases like pneumonia, high thyroid levels, ill-effects of a heart surgery, heavy alcohol consumption, using stimulants such as caffeine or nicotine in excessive amounts apart from addictive usage of decongestants and drugs like cocaine. It has been noted that many prescription medicines are capable of causing atrial fibrillation if they are taken without care or proper diagnostic evaluation.
Understanding Heart Attack-Atrial Fibrillation Relationship
Since a heart attack is an established cause of atrial fibrillation, once a fibrillation is recorded the patient is put under strict medical observation since he/she poses an increased susceptibility to suffer another heart attack that can prove fatal. Please understand that all degrees of atrial fibrillation are not life threatening. In fact, some adults tend to live the latter part of their lives with a minimal amount of atrial fibrillation while some cannot bear it for more than a few months and need surgical intervention or other rehabilitation-based treatments. It has been established that Atrial Fibrillation can cause permanent heart damage. Situations wherein atrial fibrillation can result in permanent heart damage are rather rare but it has been witnessed that in most cases of atrial fibrillation, the upper chamber of the heart enters a phase of over-working wherein it is subjected to more than 600 beats per minute. The resulting strain is felt by the lower chamber of the heart also that normally beats to a lesser degree. Thus, in order to sustain the increased overload, it enters a stage of being strained beyond its natural state. If the lower chamber is pressed into beating at more than 100 beats, per minute for a few weeks, there is every chance of the lower chamber valves wearing-out and the heart developing congestive heart failure (CHF) which is a potentially life-threatening medical condition.
Many Symptoms of heart attack and Atrial Fibrillation are quite similar such as:
- Fainting spells
- Being lightheaded or dizzy
- Feeling tired or out-of-breath
- A sudden chest pain or angina
- Feeling physically fatigued without any reason
- Constant feeling of heart fluttering/pounding/racing (also called cardiac palpitations)
Atrial Fibrillation Heart Failure Diagnosis
The procedure of diagnosing atrial fibrillation due to heart failure is a physical exam apart from standard cardiovascular health exams such as EKG, i..e. electrocardiogram. The EKG test is regarded as the benchmark for testing in this niche since it can detect existing and possible problems within the heart by measuring its electrical activity. The Echocardiogram is regarded as the best way of measuring how well the heart is pumping and if the valves are functioning properly.