What is Atrial Fibrillation? -Its Causes and Treatment

What is Atrial Fibrillation?

Atrial Fibrillation or also known as AF involves an abnormality in the heart rhythm wherein the heart’s two atria beat irregularly, creating chaotic electrical heart signals, placing the two lower ventricles (the lower chambers) out of coordination as well. As the upper chambers or atria control the normal heart rhythm, the body’s pulse becomes irregular.

3 Types of Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial Fibrillation has three types. Lets see them.

Paroxysmal AF

Atrial Fibrillation that some time arises and some time sotp. AFib stops by itself and the heart returns to normal rhythm. AFib may last for seconds, minutes, hours, or days before the heart returns to its normal rhythm. Mostly People with this type of AFib usually have more symptoms than others. As the heart goes in and out of Atrial Fibrillation, rate of pulse may change from slow to fast and back again in short periods of time.

Long standing persistent AF

It is also know as Permanent AF. Atrial Fibrillation that cannot be corrected. Medications and controlled electrical shock cannot help return the heart to normal rhythm.

Persistent AF

Persistent AF is third type of Atrial Fibrillation. That Fib does not stop by itself. Medications or a special type of electrical shock (called cardioversion) is used to help the heart return to normal rhythm. If no treatment is given, the heart will stay out of rhythm.

Causes of Atrial Fibrillation

These are the some causes of AF

  • high blood pressure
  • atherosclerosis
  • cardiomyopathy
  • pericarditis
  • an overactive thyroid gland
  • pneumonia
  • asthma
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • lung cancer
  • heart valve disease
  • congenital heart disease
  • diabetes
  • pulmonary embolism
  • carbon monoxide poisoning

Atrial Fibrillation Treatment
Treatment for atrial fibrillation will depend on a lot of factors and this includes the symptoms you experience, how long have you’ve had it and the underlying cause or triggers of AF.


Nearly all arrhythmias, including AF, are triggered by the autonomic nervous system. This is the intrinsic (subconscious) nervous system that governs day-to-day bodily functions that we are unaware of, such as control of heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, peristalsis (gut movement), etc.

The fright or flight response, is one such strong manifestation of the autonomic nervous system and allows you to run for your life (or fight for it) in a threatening situation.

The opposite of this is called the “rest and digest” response – which is where for example after a meal, you get into a deeply relaxed state to allow digestion and recovery/rest of bodily functions.

The relevance of the autonomic nervous system is that some (up to 60%) of individuals may well experience AF which is triggered by autonomic states. For example, when AF occurs with exercise, infection or caffeine-ingestion, then these are clear “fright or flight” triggers for AF. Less commonly know about is the vagally-mediated AF triggers – which is when AF is triggered by:

  • A large meal
  • Dizzy/bubbly drinks
  • During sleep at night
  • Several hours after exertion (i.e. whilst recovering from a heavy workout).
  • In these instances, AF is said to be vagally-mediated (or vagal AF).

Two types of treament avilable for atrial fibrillation:

1. Rate control strategy
Rate control treatment strategy used when we do not attempt to restore sinus rhythm, but instead ensure that your heart does not beat too quickly.

The heart rate can be controlled through the use of anti-arrhythmic medications that act on the AV-node to slow and partially prevent the transmission of electrical impulses from the atria to the ventricles.

Therefore we can say that the heart pumps slower and more effectively so that some of the symptoms of atrial fibrillation may be relieved.

2. Rhythm control strategy
This is when we attempt to get your heart back into sinus rhythm. This can be achieved by either:

  • anti-arrhythmic medications
  • electrical cardioversion
  • catheter ablations

Note: I recommend you must consult with expert cardiologist near you for proper tratment of atrial firbrillation.
If you live in London I suggest you to consult with Dr. Boon Lim - Best Cardiologist in London.

Aatif is a professional article writer, He loves to write articles about health and technology.
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