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

178 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

HI since about February i have had trouble falling asleep because of racing heart and slight chest tightness. it seems to happen mainly when i am trying to relax and most times after drinking alcohol. I also used to always sleep on my stomach but now i cant because i feel it causes more discomfort. when im laying on my stomach i feel like i can feel my heart beating a little bit harder so i try sleeping on my back. sleeping on my back does help but i still will experience the palpitations. its really scary so i usually cant fall asleep till i am extremely exhausted. I am in pretty good health i have good blood pressure, no blood disorders, and no previous heart conditions. I had my heart checked at the doctors and he said it was fine but i also was not having an episode at the time of my visit. the reason i am here is because my insurance is expired till august and was hoping to get some answers

doctor1 MD

43 year old female, normal weight in good health. .Total hysterectomy done Dec. 2010, benign ovarian mass; 2 weeks after episode of PSVT, then next week chest pain and spasms. 1 episode of tachycardia of 140's bpm sustained for 1 hour. Preop ekg normal and new ekgs show slight t wave changes. Checked for PE, CT clear and lower ultrasound clear. ECHO 67% EF, normal nuclear and treadmill stress test, normal cardiac cath, carotid us. TSH was 5.4 at the beginning of Jan. but returned to 2.3 2 wks later. Taking Cartia 120 mg once daily and Metoprol 12.5 bid. Sent to cardio EP, who states that condition is due to low sodium levels and advised to up sodium. Sodium levels taken 3xs over this period have been between 133 -135. Intermittent slight chest pain continues, returning to work next week. Primary care does not believe it is due to low sodium levels, doing 24 hr osmality and sodium tests. Is there anything else we should look for?

doctor1 MD

I have the following symptoms and am trying to obtain a diagnosis that is correct for all of these: they are as follows: heart arrhythmia, bladder incontinence (very severe that it pours out of me at times), urinary frequency at night, problems breathing when I lie flat, (I sleep with a wedge), shortness of breath, pitting edema in left leg and now in right calf and ankle area, severe coughing at times usually severe with a gagging reflex, a slightly enlarged right heart valve, swooshing in my body when I sit down or arise, weakness in my lower legs or extremities, swelling in my abdomen and ankles, weight gain especially around the stomach and headaches. I was diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia already, sleep apnea, fibromyalgia, obstructive breathing disease, however, with the severe bladder and urinary problems, could these be related to a chronic kidney disease with the heart issues as well? I also noticed that I have had severe mood swings, confusion, weakness, sometimes speaking a different language. My grandparents were from Poland, Bohemia and the Czech area and had heart disease and my grandmother had kidney failure. I was injured back in 2004 and had knee surgery along with a blood clot that was removed at that time. I previously had a gushing feeling of warmth going up my spine and then it would go up through the back of my head and then dissipate. Could there signs of a blood clot somewhere?

doctor1 MD

years ago I noticed heart palpitations which led to panis attacks because they scared me 30 years later dealing with them ive noticed a link to them.the question is I believe the main trigger is in the garden vegetables from the store.I know this sounds a little bit reaching but I told my wife to lay off the frozen vegetables and they have decreased dramatically could there be a link or could it be the pesticides causing the to re-surface.ive tried to live with them for years and wished they woulg go away.yes its true anxiety and palptations are related but why would they dramatically increase.ive also notice when my blood pressure is a little higher than normal I dont have palpitations at all.so why would my blood pressure being around normal cause me to have them and being a little higher not have them.why would eating vegetables cause me to have them alot.its hard to find a medium area but since ive laid off the vegetables its bearable.ive tried everything humanlly possible.I guess if I never felt my heart beating would probably cure me.I also use to be a track runner in school years ago long distance runner is it possible that the excessive running triggered them?just searching for answers thank you.

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.