Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a heart condition characterised by an irregular and rapid heartbeat that hampers blood supply to the body. In atrial fibrillation, the upper chambers (atria) and the lower chambers (ventricles) of the heart lack coordination, causing a rapid and irregular heart rhythm. People with atrial fibrillation may experience palpitations, shortness of breath, and fatigue or lack of energy. Atrial fibrillation can be intermittent (occasional) or chronic. Atrial fibrillation is a serious medical condition that requires immediate treatment. If left untreated, it can lead to serious health consequences.
Some of the risk factors for atrial fibrillation include the following:
A cardiologist should evaluate all heart conditions for proper diagnosis and treatment. Your cardiologist will perform a thorough medical history and physical examination. Diagnostic studies may include routine blood tests, electrocardiogram (measures the electrical activity of the heart), chest X-ray, echocardiogram (ultrasound images) and Holter monitor (ambulatory device that measures the electrical activity of the heart).
Treatment options may include medications, specific medical procedures, and surgery. Surgery may be necessary in patients with chronic AF who do not respond to medication or procedures and in people with other co-morbid conditions requiring a heart surgery.
Surgical procedures for atrial fibrillation are open-heart procedures, performed under general anaesthesia.
In AF patients with other heart problems such as valve disease or coronary artery disease, which also require a surgery, a combination of the surgeries may be used to treat AF and the co-morbid condition simultaneously.