Table of Contents
Consequences and Complications
Diagnostics and Treatment
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In modern medicine, it is essential to study issues related to cardiovascular system disorders. Due to the diversity of the components involved and the complexity of the organization, physicians distinguish a whole variety of diseases that a patient may encounter. Under normal heart conditions, the heart operates by pumping blood from the atria into the ventricles, with blood entering different circles. Nepatological contraction of the heart muscle is given to regularities, but in case of any abnormalities in the mechanism of pumping blood, it is said about arrhythmia.
One of the most common arrhythmias is atrial fibrillation. At the same time, there is an absolute heterogeneity of contractions and the absence of their coordinated movement. Fibrillation arrhythmia can often be diagnosed by determining the pulse and finding that the heartbeat occurs at irregular intervals. However, the final diagnosis is based on ECG signs: the absence of P wave, which is present at normal heart rhythm and characterizes electrical activity during atrial contraction. The disease is treatable, but in case of complications, it can stimulate the development of additional cardiac muscle disorders such as ischemic stroke, clot formation, and chronic heart failure. This research paper aims to discuss the phenomenon of atrial fibrillation, its underlying causes, and the implications and forms of treatment.
Each heartbeat is accompanied by a sequential contraction of its sections, first the atria, and then the ventricles. The contractions follow each other at equal intervals. If there is a disturbance in the frequency, rhythm, or sequential contraction of the heart, an arrhythmia is indicated. One of the most common arrhythmias, which affects about 2% of the world’s population, is known in the medical, scientific community as atrial fibrillation (Xu, Luc, & Phan, 2016). Atrial fibrillation is generally defined as a cardiac rhythm disorder characterized by recurrent and irregular excitation of the atrial myocardium and complete heterogeneity of heartbeats in frequency and strength. In atrial fibrillation, the heart rate can reach up to 600 beats per minute, which is about ten times the norm (Xu, Luc, & Phan, 2016). However, it is crucial to understand that the duration of cardiac cycles is irregular; it can vary significantly depending on individual characteristics and is random.
It took researchers several decades to find out the reasons behind atrial fibrillation. Modern medicine identifies two main groups of causes that increase the likelihood of cardiac arrhythmias: cardiac and extracardiac (Fauchier et al., 2016). All kinds of pathologies associated with the heart system, including congenital heart disease, heart failure, or postoperative complications, are part of the first group. The second group is based on causes not directly related to the heart: lung diseases, magnesium or potassium deficiency in the body, thyroid disease, or viral infection.
Consequences and Complications
There are still no confirmed scientific results on the correlation between life expectancy and atrial fibrillation. It is clear that the presence of diseases does not have a positive effect on the quality of life, but if the patient pays sufficient attention to health, they have a good chance of surviving to a profound old age. Prolonged paroxysm of atrial fibrillation may cause the development of new diseases such as heart failure, ischemic stroke, and thromboembolism (Ganesan et al., 2016). Reduced blood flow due to heart failure weakens the oxygen supply to the brain, causing a stroke (Freedman, Potpara, & Lip, 2016). In thromboembolism, the atrioventricular aperture that connects the ventricle and atrium of the heart muscle is blocked by an intracardial clot. Congestion of heart vessels is known to cause cardiac arrest (Ganesan et al., 2016). Moreover, if a blood clot enters the arterial system, which is concentrated in a large circulation circle, thromboembolism of any organ can be observed.
Diagnostics and Treatment
Suspicion of atrial fibrillation occurs if an irregular heart rate is detected. The diagnosis of atrial fibrillation can only be confirmed using an electrocardiogram. By studying it, a cardiologist can detect the absence of a discrete P curve and an increase in irregular f bands (Nielsen et al., 2015). In this case, it is said that the atrial fibrillation is a confirmed form. Treatment of atrial fibrillation is aimed at controlling PF, restoring, and further maintaining sinus rhythm and minimizing the risk of thromboembolic complications. Treatment involves taking antiarrhythmic drugs that reduce heart rate through beta-blockers or other types of inhibitors. It is important to note that the patient is prescribed a diet because overeating leads to irritation of the vagus nerve, which affects sinus function.
A healthy person’s heart muscle function is autonomous and fully coordinated. The heart, compressed like a pump, pumps blood to the body. Failure of the heart muscle contraction is called arrhythmia, and the type of arrhythmia in which it is impossible to talk about any natural heartbeat is known as atrial fibrillation. Fibrillation arrhythmia is one of the most common forms of heart rhythm disorder. The disease is characterized by disruption of the heart muscle: atria stop contracting normally. Instead, they are trembling, resulting in a decrease in the amount of blood entering the ventricles. This pathology is characterized by a sudden increase in heart rate, up to 600 beats per minute.
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Diagnosis of the disease is aimed at studying the heart and identifying errors associated with heart contraction. Although it is possible to make assumptions about the development of the disease through heart rate analysis, the final diagnosis is made by a cardiologist studying the patient’s cardiogram. In the treatment of atrial fibrillation, there are several strategies to control the heart rate, maintain sinus rhythm, and manage complications. Hemodynamic abnormalities and thromboembolic complications associated with atrial fibrillation lead to significant increases in morbidity, mortality, and cost of medical care.
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Freedman, B., Potpara, T. S., & Lip, G. Y. (2016). Stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation. The Lancet, 388(10046), 806-817.
Ganesan, A. N., Chew, D. P., Hartshorne, T., Selvanayagam, J. B., Aylward, P. E., Sanders, P., & McGavigan, A. D. (2016). The impact of atrial fibrillation type on the risk of thromboembolism, mortality, and bleeding: A systematic review and meta-analysis. European Heart Journal, 37(20), 1591-1602.
Nielsen, J. B., Kühl, J. T., Pietersen, A., Graff, C., Lind, B., Struijk, J. J.,… Holst, A. G. (2015). P-wave duration and the risk of atrial fibrillation: Results from the Copenhagen ECG Study. Heart Rhythm, 12(9), 1887-1895.
Xu, J., Luc, J. G., & Phan, K. (2016). Atrial fibrillation: Review of current treatment strategies. Journal of Thoracic Disease, 8(9), E886-E900.