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Atrial Fibrillation - The Lesser Known Heart Issue

30 April, 2019

Heart Disease
, senior care

In India, due to most of the older population, at least in the urban areas, having diabetes and blood pressure issues, the chances of heart issues are also more. We have heard of so many people ignoring signs of heart issues, till they are hit badly by a heart attack or some such problem, requiring emergency surgery. The healthcare, at least in urban India is highly improved, whereas even in the rural areas, many stories are coming out recently because of the PM’s Ayushman Bharat Yojana.

The one thing that can help significant issues from happening concerning the heart is awareness about what can go wrong. One of the lesser-known heart issues, especially in India is Atrial Fibrillation. What happens in this condition is that the person’s heart starts beating fast and uneven. Since this is usually something that can happen to older people, especially if they are stressed or anxious, it is mostly ignored. However, this happens to be a rather serious issue, which, if not addressed immediately, can increase your risk of stroke, heart failure, and other heart-related complications. This can happen at any time and may come and go, and at times, the persons themselves may not pay much attention, and if they lie down, the symptoms may subside and may not come back for a long time as well. Hence, it is important to know about this condition.

The Symptoms

The typical symptoms of this condition that are identifiable are:

  • Palpitations – This is the most common symptom - sensations of a racing, and irregular heartbeat, causing discomfort or a flip-flop in the chest
  • Chest pain – This may or may not be there
  • Shortness of breath – Usually seen, especially when the symptoms last a little while
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion

The point to be noted is that not all symptoms above may happen together, and neither is it confirmed that is Atrial Fibrillation, just because one or more symptoms appear. The important point is if the symptoms persist, are severe, and has happened more than once, and then the person should be rushed for emergency medical care, as that just might be very important. The doctor does some emergency tests like ECG and Echo, and if required a few other tests as well to determine, if you have Atrial Fibrillation.

Causes or Risk Factors

The possible causes that can lead to Atrial Fibrillation are:

  • Age
  • Stress
  • High blood pressure
  • Viral Infections
  • Heart attacks
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Abnormal heart valves
  • Heart defects you're born with (congenital)
  • Heart Surgery
  • Metabolic imbalances
  • Certain triggers like medications, caffeine, tobacco or alcohol or foods
  • Lung diseases
  • Sleep apnea

Note: At times, there is a possibility that it can happen without any underlying cause as well. Usually, the doctors do all the necessary tests to determine this.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Depending on the cause and the nature of the condition, the doctors will try to restore the heart rhythm to normal. The people may have to be on continuous treatment to keep it so as well. Usually, beta-blockers and anti-arrhythmic drugs are prescribed to get the patient back to normalcy. Occasionally, the doctors may also decide to do some procedures to get the issue corrected. With a little care and medication, most patients can lead a normal life, except for following the guidelines given by the doctor.

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