Get your health question answered instantly from our pool of 18000+ doctors from over 80 specialties

134 Doctors Online
Doctor Image
MD
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

I will be looking into your question and guiding you through the process. Please write your question below.

Can anyone tell me anything about atrial fibrillation of the heart?

can anyone tell me anything about atrial fibrillation? of the heart.?
I have recently been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, been given no info on it by the consultant or my g.p.
Mon, 14 Dec 2009
Report Abuse
Question is related to
Diseases and Conditions ,  
Medical Topics
  User's Response
's  Response
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common, abnormal rhythm of the heart. The heart contracts (beats) and pumps blood with a regular rhythm, for example, at a rate of 60 beats per minute there is a beat every second. The heart may beat faster or slower with a shorter or longer interval between beats, but at any one rate the interval between beats is constant. This regular rhythm occurs as a result of regular electrical discharges (currents) that travel through the heart and cause the muscle of the heart to contract. In AF, the electrical discharges are irregular and rapid and, as a result, the heart beats irregularly and, usually, rapidly. AF is common; half a million new cases are diagnosed yearly in the U.S., and billions of dollars are spent annually on its diagnosis and treatment. What causes atrial fibrillation? Normal function of the heart The heart has four chambers. The upper two chambers are the atria, and the lower two chambers are the ventricles. Blood returning to the heart from the body in the superior and inferior vena cava contains low levels of oxygen and high levels of carbon dioxide. This blood flows into the right atrium and then into the adjacent right ventricle. After the ventricle fills, contraction of the right atrium pumps additional blood into the right ventricle. The right ventricle then contracts and pumps the blood to the lungs where the blood takes up oxygen and gives off carbon dioxide. The blood then flows from the lungs to the left atrium and into the adjacent left ventricle. Contraction of the left atrium pumps additional blood into the left ventricle. The left ventricle then contracts and pumps the blood to the rest of the body. The heartbeat (pulse) that we feel is caused by the contraction of the ventricles. The ventricles must deliver enough blood to the body for the body to function normally. The amount of blood that is pumped depends on several factors. The most important factor is the rate of contraction of the heart (the heart rate). As the heart rate increases, more blood is pumped. In addition, the heart pumps more blood with each beat when the atria contract and fill the ventricles with additional blood just before the ventricles contract. With each beat of the heart, an electrical discharge (current) passes through the electrical system of the heart. The electrical discharge causes the muscle of the atria and ventricles to contract and pump blood. The electrical system of the heart consists of the SA node (sino-atrial node), the AV node (atrio-ventricular node) and special tissues in the atria and the ventricles that conduct the current. The SA node is the heart's electrical pacemaker. It is a small patch of cells located in the wall of the right atrium; the frequency with which the SA node discharges determines the rate at which the heart beats. The electrical current passes from the SA node, through the special tissues of the atria and into the AV node. The AV node serves as an electrical relay station between the atria and the ventricles. Electrical signals from the atria must pass through the AV node to reach the ventricles. The electrical discharges from the SA node cause the atria to contract and pump blood into the ventricles. The same discharges then pass through the AV node to reach the ventricles, traveling through the special tissues of the ventricles and causing the ventricles to contract. In a normal heart, the rate of atrial contraction is the same as the rate of ventricular contraction. At rest, the frequency of the electrical discharges originating from the SA node is low, and the heart beats at the lower range of normal (60-80 beats/minute). During exercise or excitement, the frequency of discharges from the SA node increases, increasing the rate at which the heart beats
Disclaimer: These answers are for your information only and not intended to replace your relationship with your treating physician.
This is a short, free answer. For a more detailed, immediate answer, try our premium service [Sample answer]
Share on
 

Related questions you may be interested in

doctor1 MD

I am a 76-year old female with atrial fibrillation, having logged blood pressure for 3 months. BP is good, heart rate is consistently staying at 100+ and irregular heart symbol, according to digital BP machine. This I have discussed with triage nurse and am to see heart doctor next week. Am in good health, have no stressors in my life except am a caregiver for my husband. No problems there either. After logging BP s for over 3 months, the doctor changed me from Propranolol 240 mg per day to Metoprolol, just last week. It seems my heart rate is still increasing with no apparent reason off and on the last few days, BP still fine. Still having the irregular heart symbol off and on. No chest pain, no shortness of breath or discomfort. Just the quivery feeling when the heart rate is up. I am resting more. No exercising, just the trips to store at this time.

doctor1 MD

I was in a car accident at the time my heart was beating so fast i could not move since then i had a echocardgram done and shows leaking valve and developed antril fib, no heart problems before this, my body flew forward then slammed the back of my seat.

doctor1 MD

I am on a beta blocker but. my heart still speeds up and misses beats, my doctors don t have a clue why.

Recent questions on  Cardiac arrhythmia

doctor1 MD

Hey, I was diagnosed with an eating disorder and the effects were secondary amenorrhea and bradycardia. My resting rate rate then was 45 and they said it could be reversed but I was wondering if it was possible to reverse it in a week? I ve been following their orders of eating more for about 5 days now and my resting heart rate is between 70-80 every time I check it.

doctor1 MD

I had a herpetic whitlow - sp? which caused lymphangitis, or red streaking up my hand and arm - about the same time, my heart started beating irregularly and I went on a 7 day course of Keflex. While on the Keflex, my heart was fine. The minute I went off the Keflex, the palpitations came back. I ve worn a heart monitor and was told that 2% of my heartbeats are extra but what I feel is that there is some sort of infection at play here even though my bloodwork has come back normal. Thoughts?

doctor1 MD

I have recurrent atrial fibrillation status post radio frequency ablation and bilateral thoracotomy this seems to be made wose during high stress job experiences as a nurse anesthetist will I just have continue to work like this or does this condition qualify for disability

doctor1 MD

My name is Jennifer. I am a 41 year old female, 5 9 , 125 LB. Over the past 10 years I have had symptoms of arrhythmias , chest pain, breathing problems (inability to breath deeply), coughing and severe hoarseness usually coinciding with the other problems. It seems to be getting slowly worse as I get older. I sleep sitting up. If I lay down I risk waking up with significant chest pain, choking and arrhythmias. I tried to get a diagnosis in my 30 s but no one found the source of my problem before I lost my insurance and stopped pursuing it. I recently went to a chiropractor and had x-rays taken. There is significant compression and misalignment between C3 and C4. There is also some arthritic changes between these vertebrae. I used to break horses when I was in my early 20 s and at one point directly fell on my head and was knocked out. I assume that is what caused this particular injury. My question is could this injury be causing the arrhythmias, chest pain, breathing problems and hoarseness? I know you can t answer with certainty I am just curious if it is a possibility. Thank you for your time, Jennifer

doctor1 MD

I have high blood pressure(165/110) and was put on Lisinoprin 3 weeks ago and it has come down about 30 points...however i have head aches and have shortness of breath . I wake up at night and feel like i'm not getting enough oxygen . I weigh 260...

doctor1 MD

I was diagnosed with attrial flutters ( arrhythmia ) and the cardiologist did a cardio version and a subsequent EKG showed the condition was corrected. The doctor has me on Xarelto and a beta blocker . I feel fine and I am wondering if I can drink...

doctor1 MD

My husband is 80 years old and has been diagnosed with congenial heart dease. His heart is only pumping half the speed of a normal heart beat. And now his lungs are filling with fluid. He also has Alzheimer's.