What Is Atrial Fibrillation? Its Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

The human heart is divided in four chambers, the left and right artia and the left and right ventricles. The artia are located above the respective ventricles and their primary role is to pump blood into the ventricles, from where it is pumped to the lungs and rest of the body.

Under normal conditions, the heart beats are controlled by electrical signals that are generated at the sinus node, which is also referred to as the natural pacemaker. The sinus node is located in the right atrium and sends electrical signals via the atrioventricular node to coordinate the pumping of blood through the four chambers of the heart.

Fibrillation is a type of arrhythmia, which is the result of irregular heartbeats (either fast or slow). In case of atrial fibrillation, instead of single coordinated impulse from the sinus node, different parts of the atrium trigger impulses, resulting in multiple contractions. This leads the atrium to fibrillate. While this condition may result in reduced efficiency of the atrium to pump into the ventricle, the ventricular functions are not hampered in most cases.

Atrial fibrillation may cause the atria to contract as many as 350 times a minute.

There are three basic types of atrial fibrillations identified,

  • Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation which may start suddenly and cease to exist after a particular period.
  • Persistent atrial fibrillation which is present over prolonged period of time and requires medical intervention.
  • Permanent atrial fibrillation in which the heart does not return to normal functioning even after medical intervention.

Atrial fibrillation is a dangerous medical condition since it causes blood pooling and leads to formation of blood clots. The condition affects approximately 6% of the population above the age of 65 years and increases to affect almost 15% of the population above the age of 80 years.

Causes And Symptoms Of Atrial Fibrillation

While elderly population is at a high risk of developing this condition, there are certain other risk factors that are linked to this disease condition,

  • Abnormalities in the structure of the heart.
  • Damage to the values of the heart due to a disease usually infectious.
  • Hypertension
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol, usually binge drinking.

Some of the common symptoms associated with atrial fibrillation include,

  • Palpitations with irregular and usually rapid heartbeats.
  • Discomfort in the chest with a sensation of tightness.
  • Dizziness with occasional complaints of lightheadedness and fainting.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Generalized weakness

While occasional fluttering of the heart may not be a cause of concern, a medical examination is essential to confirm the diagnosis. Unfortunately in some cases, no symptoms may be experienced and intervention may be delayed.

Natural Treatment For Atrial Fibrillation

The focus of treatment is to control the heart rate and rhythm and prevent clotting of blood. There are certain dietary modifications and home remedies that might be beneficial,

  • Include pungent foods like onions and garlic in your diet. These foods act as natural blood thinners and reduce the risk of blood coagulation and clot formation, thereby preventing stroke. Strokes are the most common complications associated with atrial fibrillations.
  • Homeopathic drug, Aurum metallicum is considered useful in improving the electrical impulses in the heart and thereby alleviating some of the symptoms.
  • Restrict salt intake in the diet, as this can be useful in controlling high blood pressure. Calcium supplements may also be beneficial, though it is recommended to consult your physician before taking them.

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