What is AFib or AF? Atrial Fibrillation and it is the most common abnormal heart rhythm that we see. In a normal heart, the heart beats in a steady pattern, with all four chambers of the heart beating in a rhythmic pattern. In AFib, the upper chambers of the heart “fibrillate” or quiver, causing an irregular rhythm. .
In a normal heart, the heartbeat is a single electrical impulse from the atria, causing the atria to contract or squeeze, moving the blood into the lower ventricles. When AFib occurs, the electrical impulse does not follow the proper order, causing many impulses from the atria and trying to get through the AV node. This can happen because:
- The heart structure and its electrical impulse pathways may change as we get older; or
- A type of trigger may develop that is an electrical circuit sending out extra impulses at a faster rate
As the extra impulses try to push through the AV node it causes the atria to fibrillate or quiver.
Is this life threatening?
No. It can lead to symptoms that have a negative impact on quality of life, however left untreated the side effects can be life threatening, leading to stroke or heart failure.