Atrial fibrillation

It is one of the most common forms of cardiac arrhythmia. Heart rate, fatigue and difficulty breathing are his symptoms.

What is it

Atrial fibrillation is one of the most common forms of cardiac arrhythmia: it affects over 5 percent of the population over 70 and 10 percent of those over 80, but it can also occur at a young age.

It manifests itself as a very rapid contraction of the atrial walls of the heart and a variable frequency in the transmission of the impulse. As a result, it causes an irregularity in the heartbeat.

It is divided into:

Type of atrial fibrillation Features
Paroxysmal Regresses spontaneously
Persistent Thanks to the use of medication or electrical cardioversion, it is possible to restore the correct heart rhythm
Permanent It is chronic and resists all therapies

Most common symptoms

The most frequent symptoms of atrial fibrillation are: – heart rate -fatigue – difficulty breathing (especially under stress)

In most cases the symptoms are vague and unspecific, if not absent.

For this reason it is advisable to check frequently the regularity of the heartbeat and at the first hint of arrhythmia contact your doctor.


Atrial fibrillation is often a consequence of the natural “aging” of the heart, although there are cases of juvenile onset of the disease.

Other causes of atrial fibrillation can be: heart failure, dilated heart disease, a suffering of the heart muscle caused by scarring of previous coronary thrombosis, heart attack, ischemia, angina, a disease of the mitral valve or a defect in the electrical system of the heart.


The most serious consequence of atrial fibrillation is ischemic stroke: the anomaly of the heartbeat can cause stagnation of blood in the atria of the heart, thus favoring coagulation and the consequent formation of small thrombi.

Thrombi can enter the circulation, becoming emboli. And if they get to the brain they can close one of its peripheral arteries, causing a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or stroke.

It is estimated that one in five cases of stroke is related to the presence of an arrhythmia.

In addition, strokes caused by atrial fibrillation are among the most serious: they have a higher mortality rate and cause greater disability.


You can try to give your heart back a proper rhythm, a practice called cardioversion, through two ways:

  • pharmacological cardioversion (intravenous infusion or oral intake of antiarrhythmic drugs)
  • electrical cardioversion (a shock that stops the heart for a moment and makes it restart with the correct rhythm).

In addition, it is important to identify and avoid precipitating events (large meals, the intake of stimulants such as caffeine or theine, alcohol, etc.).

In addition to antiarrhythmic drugs, the doctor can prescribe medicines that thin the blood: they serve to prevent thrombus from forming. They belong to the categories of anticoagulants and antiplatelets.

Recently, so-called new oral anticoagulants have been developed which, compared to the first generation ones, do not require monitoring by blood sampling.

They are as effective, if not more effective, than, older ones in protecting against stroke and are superior in protection with respect to the risk of cerebral haemorrhages.

Joycelyn Elders is the author and creator of EmpowerEssence, a health and wellness blog. Elders is a respected public health advocate and pediatrician dedicated to promoting general health and well-being.

The blog covers a wide range of topics related to health and wellness, with articles organized into several categories.

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