Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Atrial Fibrillation – The Irregular Heart Beat

Atrial fibrillation is caused due to irregular heart beat
72 beats per minute is considered to be a normal rate of heart beats. It can also range from 60 to 100 while a person is resting. If the heartbeat crosses these numbers on either side, one must get themselves checked. Generally, these beats are regular and they follow a rhythm. People who are trained can predict when the next one. When the heart is beating irregularly, it can lead to certain heart conditions. 

When it reaches over 140 beats per minute, it may be due to a problem known as atrial fibrillation. This abnormally high speed makes it difficult to predict the rhythm as the rate may be irregular.

Tiny cells are responsible for the beating. The heart beats when it pumps blood. Before the beat, it fills up with oxygenated blood and squirts it to different parts of the body. As it is a continuous process, it is considered to be one of the most important functions in the body. When a person suffers from it, the upper chambers (atria) of the heart lose their rhythm and contract randomly. Occasionally, it may be so fast that the heart muscles may not rest in between two beats. This may affect the overall functioning. 

The process is conducted by electrical impulses. When these impulses start to abnormally firing in the atria, the rhythm is disrupted. Although the causes of atrial fibrillation are not fully known, it may be highly probable in people with risk factors including excessive smoking and alcohol consumption. 

Multiple problems are associated with irregular beats. Some of the commonly seen problems may be the following:
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
Across the globe, over five million suffer from it and about 2.2 million patients are based in the US. As the risk of suffering from it rises with age, proper care and management of this condition is important. Based on the diagnosis, doctors may prescribe, Plavix (clopidogrel) to treat atrial fibrillation. According to American College of Cardiology, the active ingredient in this drug, clopidogrel bisulfate may reduce the chances of a fatal heart attack, blood clots or strokes by 11%. They studied this in a four year long research which included over 7,500 patients suffering from this disease. 

Like any other medicine, this drug may have certain serious side effects. Hence, before starting with this medication, health condition, history and other medications that one is currently taking should be discussed with the doctor. It is also advised to take it, only if it is prescribed by a medical practitioner. 

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