Premature Ventricular Contractions (PVC’s)
Patients often describe to me their heart feels like it thumps, or skips a beat. When we use telemetry and monitor the heart
What Is Atrial Fibrillation?
Atrial fibrillation, is the most common type of irregular heart rhythm or arrhythmia. It occurs frequently following open heart surgery. Often patients will describe feeling slightly out of breath, or more weak. When they check their pulse they find it irregular, and often difficult to count the beats per minute as it speeds up and slows down.
AF occurs if rapid, disorganized electrical signals cause the heart’s two upper chambers—called the atria —to fibrillate. The term “fibrillate” means to contract very fast and irregularly.
In AF, blood pools in the atria. It isn’t pumped completely into the heart’s two lower chambers, called the ventricles. This pooled blood often can stick together and form clots, placing the person at a much higher risk of stroke. People who have AF may not feel symptoms. However, even when AF isn’t noticed, it can increase the risk of stroke. In some people, AF can cause chest pain or heart failure, especially if the heart rhythm is very rapid As a result, the heart’s upper and lower chambers don’t work together as they should.
AF may happen rarely or every now and then, or it may become an ongoing or long-term heart problem that lasts for years.
The link below is from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute which has a nice visual of what occurs with atrial fibrillation.
If you suspect you are in atrial fibrillation it is very important you contact your doctor immediately. The first goal is to make sure the heart rate is not too fast. A resting heart rate in the 120’s or higher is too fast. The second goal of treatment is to make sure the blood is thin enough to prevent formation of clots, and lastly the physician will determine if the rhythm can be converted back to normal sinus rhythm.