What Causes AFIB?

What Is Important To Know About Atrial fibrillation (Afib)

A medical condition that can affect a person’s heart health is Atrial fibrillation (Afib). It is a common affliction that impact’s the rate of a heart’s beat or rhythm. Afib results from disorganized signals causing the upper two chambers of a person’ heart to squeeze very quickly and be out of sync. Afib causes the heart’s chambers to contract so quickly the walls of a person’s heart will quiver. This is also known as fibrillation.

What Causes AFIB?

Electrical System

Afib can result when the electrical system in a person’s heart experiences damage. This often results from other conditions affecting a person’s heart. It is common for a physician not to know exactly what is causing a person’s Afib. People can avoid Afib when they learn what triggers it to occur with their heart.

Triggers

There are a number of different things that could trigger an Afib episode. Stress is a major factor. Studies have shown that when a person with Afib leaves a stressful work or home situation, their Afib episodes decrease or are eliminated. Should they return to the stressful situation, the Afib also returns. A person’s diet can also be a trigger. Caffeine and chocolate have been shown to be possible Afib triggers. Excessive exercise has also shown to be a trigger and more.

Patterns

Afib can occur with different patterns.

Intermittent
The heart develops Afib and then returns to normal. This could last a few seconds to a few days.

Persistent
The Afib occurs and requires medical treatment to return the heart’s rhythm to normal.

Permanent
This is when a person’s heart is constantly in Afib mode. Trying to get the heart back to normal may not be possible. People with this conditions will have to take medication for the rest of their life to treat it.

Risk Factors

There are a number of different risk factors associated with this condition. It is common for Afib to occur within families. Many people who develop Afib also have heart disease. Individuals who have had a heart attack, heart failure as well as coronary heart disease, inflamed heart muscle and more are at a higher risk for developing Afib. It is also common with individuals who have had coronary artery bypass surgery as well as valve surgery. Up to 40 percent of people who have had heart surgery develop Afib. Individuals are at an increased risk as they age. After the age of 60, the chances of developing Afib increase dramatically. Individuals with high blood pressure also have an increased chance of developing Afib.

Studies

A study at Duke University showed that approximately 11 percent of individuals who have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) also experience episodes of Afib. This situation was very common with men who were former or current tobacco users. These were individuals who were also at a greater risk for heart failure, stroke as well as other types of heart disease. The National Institute of Health (NIH) conducted a study with Afib patients and studied their pulmonary functions. The results showed that the majority of individuals who had Afib also had lung disease or decreased pulmonary function related to having Afib.

Sleep Apnea

Approximately 50 percent of individuals who have Afib also experience sleep apnea. Researchers believe there is a stronger connection between Afib and sleep apnea than other types of risk factors. Sleep apnea is associated with increased levels of the C-reactive protein (CRP). This is a factor in heart inflammation and indicates a person has heart disease. Some researchers believe it’s possible that Afib triggers the development of sleep apnea.

Medical Attention

Every time a person experiences a heart palpitation, it is not necessarily Afib. When a person continues to experience heart fluttering in their chest with a slow or fast pulse, they should be evaluated by a physician.