atrial fibrillation Essay

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Atrial Fibrillation What is Atrial Fibrillation? Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is the most prevalent cardiac dysrhythmia in the United States and a substantial cause of morbidity and mortality. Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia) that starts in the upper parts (atria) of the heart. Normally, the heart beats in a strong, steady rhythm. In atrial fibrillation, a problem with the heart's electrical system the atria to quiver, or fibrillate. The quivering upsets the normal rhythm between the atria and the lower parts (ventricles) of the heart. The lower parts may beat fast and without a regular rhythm. Atrial fibrillation is dangerous because it greatly increases the risk of stroke. If the heart doesn't beat strongly, blood can collect, or pool, in the atria. Pooled blood is more likely to form clots. If the heart pumps a clot into the bloodstream, the clot can travel to the brain and block blood flow, causing a stroke. Atrial fibrillation can also lead to heart failure or heart attack (Waktare, 2000). What causes atrial fibrillation? A cause of atrial fibrillation typically results from a pre-existing condition that makes you more susceptible to the disease. It provides a tangible reason for having atrial fibrillation. Conditions that damage or strain the heart commonly cause atrial fibrillation. These include: high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, heart attack, or heart valve disease. Atrial fibrillation may also be caused by: lung disease, hyperthyroidism, pneumonia, heart surgery, heavy alcohol use, and use of stimulants. What triggers atrial fibrillation can vary from person to person (Waktare, 2000). What are the symptoms? The symptoms of atrial fibrillation vary for each individual. Some may have very strong, distinct symptoms while others may not even realize they have atrial fibrillation until after

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