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Atrial fibrillation (AF)
What is atrial fibrillation? 1
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a heart condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate.?AF can increase your risk of stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complication. 1
There are 2 types of atrial fibrillation:
A normal beating heart
The chambers of the heart contracts smoothly and regularly, meaning the blood flow is well coordinated
A heart with atrial fibrillation
The upper chambers of your heart contract rapidly but partially, making the blood flow through your heart chaotically
What are the causes for AF? 2
The cause of AF is not fully understood and men and women are equally susceptible to the disease. However, it is noted that AF is more likely to occur in patients who have other heart conditions 2 , such as:
What might you experience with AF? 3,4
Atrial fibrillation affects different people in different ways. Some people with atrial fibrillation have no symptoms and are unaware of their condition until it's discovered during a physical examination. Those who do have atrial fibrillation symptoms may experience signs and symptoms such as:
Are you aware that AF increases your risk of stroke?
The irregular, turbulent blood flow through your heart due to atrial fibrillation creates the sort of environment that encourages blood clots to form. Blood clots increase the risk of stroke. A stroke is a serious medical condition, which occurs when the blood supply to a part of the brain is cut off by a blood clot. 5
How a blood clot can cause a stroke: 6
How can you reduce your risk of stroke? 7
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help reduce your risk of suffering from a stroke.
Stop smoking is a good idea
It's best to drink alcohol in moderation
Eat a healthy diet
What are the treatments for AF? 8,9
There are three main types of atrial fibrillation treatments :
Slow down heart rate
Doctor may be able to reset heart beat to its regular rhythm (sinus rhythm) using a procedure called cardioversion, depending on the underlying cause of atrial fibrillation and how long you’ve had it
Cardioversion can be conducted in two ways:
Control heart rhythm
Maintenance of sinus rhythm requires treatment of cardiovascular risk factors and any underlying disorder (ie, hyperthyroidism) that may have triggered AF.
Common antiarrhythmic drugs
Preventing blood clot and stroke
The goal of long-term anticoagulation in atrial fibrillation is to reduce the risk of thromboembolism. Patients withs AF have a risk of stroke or peripheral embolism that is approximately 5 times that of individuals in sinus rhythm.
Common oral anticoagulant agents
1. Atrial Fibrillation Introduction. NHS Choices. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Atrial-fibrillation/Pages/Introduction.aspx. ?Last accessed: June 2016
2. AF Information & Advise for Patients, AF Association Website: What is Atrial Fibrillation? Available at: http://atrialfibrillation.org.uk/. Last accessed: June 2016
3. Atrial Fibrillation, Symptoms and Causes, Mayo Clinic. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/atrial-fibrillation/symptoms-causes/dxc-20164936.? Last accessed: June 2016
4. Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation. WebMD. Available at: http://webmd.com/heart/atrial-fibrillation-stroke-11/symptom-guide.? Last accessed: June 2016
5. Stroke. Introduction, NHS Choices. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Stroke/Pages/Introduction.aspx.?Last accessed: June, 2016
6. Diseases and Conditions, Stroke, Cleveland Clinic. Available at: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/stroke. Last accessed: June 2016
7. The Stroke Association UK. Preventing Stroke. Available at: https://www.stroke.org.uk/what-stroke/what-can-i-do-reduce-my-risk. Last accessed: June 2016
8. Atrial Fibrillation Treatment & Management. E Medicine Medscape. Available at: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/151066-treatment. Last accessed: June 2016
9. Atrial Fibrillation, Diagnosis & Treatment, Mayo Clinic, Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/atrial-fibrillation/diagnosis-treatment/treatment/txc-20164944. Last accessed: June, 2016
10. Lixiana Prescribing Information. Daiichi Sankyo HK Limited Sept 2016
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