About atrial fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation is the most common long-lasting arrhythmia. The causes and symptoms can vary greatly. Atrial fibrillation is associated with the risk of serious complications, of which the most dangerous is a stroke. The risk for atrial fibrillation increases with age; therefore, every person over 65 years should monitor their heart rate at least twice a week. With the AiVoni® –service, you can identify and diagnose atrial fibrillation at an early stage, and minimize the effects of it.
The incidence rate for atrial fibrillation increases significantly for men and women over 60 years of age. Atrial fibrillation is a very common arrhythmia, up to 10% of people over the age of 75 suffer from it. One third gets atrial fibrillation without any predisposing conditions.
Persons with one or several risk factors benefit from regular screening of the heart rhythm.
Risk factors for atrial fibrillation
Symptoms of atrial fibrillation
The symptoms of atrial fibrillation vary individually. Some people might have a lot of symptoms, as opposed to some having none at all, their condition is only detectable upon physical examination. The most obvious symptom of atrial fibrillation is heart palpitations where the heart feels like it’s pounding, fluttering or beating irregularly. Not everybody gets a feeling of an irregular heartbeat; in these cases, the symptoms might be vaguer, like general fatigue or weakness. Even if the atrial fibrillation is asymptomatic, the risk for complications is just as big.
Diagnosing atrial fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation is an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia) characterised by rapid and irregular beating of the atrial chambers of the heart. Atrial fibrillation can only be diagnosed with the help of an ECG. From the ECG-strip the cardiologist can see the irregular intervals between heartbeats, and the absence of P waves. Early diagnosis and treatment of atrial fibrillation reduces the risk for a stroke and improves the quality of life.
Atrial fibrillation can increase the risk of a blood clot forming inside the heart. If the clot travels to the brain, it can lead to a stroke. After a diagnosis, anticoagulant medications that reduce the risk of blood clots and stroke can be prescribed. In addition to a stroke, atrial fibrillation can be the cause of heart failure and vein thrombosis. Untreated atrial fibrillation also decreases the quality of life.
It is possible to have an atrial fibrillation episode that resolves on its own. If atrial fibrillation continues for less than two days, normal rhythm may be restored with electric shock treatment.
Chronic, or permanent, atrial fibrillation is usually treated with anticoagulants (“blood thinners”) that are the most effective treatment for preventing blood clots in people at high risk of stroke. Beta-blockers are prescribed commonly as primary therapy for rate control in atrial fibrillation. They are effective in reducing resting and exercise ventricular rates.