What is atrial fibrillation?Atrial fibrillation (say “A - tree - uhl fih - bruh - LAY - shun”) is an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia) that starts in the upper parts (atria) of the heart. Normally, the heart beats in a strong, steady rhythm. In atrial fibrillation, a problem with the heart’s electrical system causes the atria to quiver, or fibrillate. The quivering upsets the normal rhythm
Electrical cardioversion is a procedure in which an electric current is used to reset the heart's rhythm back to its regular pattern (normal sinus rhythm). The low - voltage electric current enters the body through metal paddles or patches applied to the chest wall. Cardioversion is used:To stop atrial fibrillation that has not stopped on its own or after a trial of antiarrhythmic medications has
Most people with atrial fibrillation don't have to change their daily activities. You can live well and safely with atrial fibrillation.There are some precautions you can take to prevent problems from atrial fibrillation. For example, tell your doctor about any activities that trigger an episode of atrial fibrillation. And talk to your doctor before you start a new exercise program or change your workouts. The table below describes some of the ways your life may be affected by your arrhythmia. It also offers tips on preventing problems.Impact of atrial fibrillation on your daily lifeAspect of lifePotential impact of atrial fibrillationTips for successStressStressful situations can trigger an episode of atrial fibrillation or make your atrial fibrillation worse.Try to lower the amount of stress at work or with family.Try meditation and other relaxation techniques when stress is unavoidable. WorkMost people with atrial fibrillation can continue working.Avoid strenuous activity and
Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.Actionsets are designed to help people take an active role in managing a health condition. Heart Problems: Living With a PacemakerHeart Problems: Living With an ICD
Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.Decision Points focus on key medical care decisions that are important to many health problems. Advance Care Planning: Should I Stop Treatment That Prolongs My Life?
Asking questions about your medical history and doing a physical exam for atrial fibrillation can reveal important information about your health and will often direct more testing.Your doctor may ask the following questions:What symptoms, if any, have you experienced?Have you experienced a sensation of fluttering in your chest? Any lightheadedness? Any chest pain? Any shortness of breath?Have you
How does your ICD help you?Your ICD can save your life.Your ICD (implantable cardioverter-defibrillator) is always checking your heart rate and rhythm. If the ICD detects a life-threatening rapid heart rhythm, it tries to slow the rhythm to get it back to normal. If the dangerous rhythm doesn't stop, the ICD sends an electrical shock to the heart to restore a normal rhythm. Your ICD may also work as a pacemaker. It can fix a heart rate that is too fast or too slow. It may do so without using a shock.Should you consider turning off your ICD?Even though an ICD can help fix heart rate or rhythm problems, you may not want this at the end of life. Many people consider turning off their ICD when their health goal changes from living longer to getting the most comfort possible at the end of life. The shocks the ICD delivers are painful. Not being shocked will make you more comfortable at the end of life. As you plan for your future and your end of life, include plans for your ICD. The
It is safe for most people with arrhythmias, pacemakers, and ICDs to travel. Riding in a car, bus, train, boat, or plane is very unlikely to aggravate the arrhythmia. But there are easy things you can do to travel safely and prepare for potential problems.General travel tips Always bring a supply of medicine that will last longer than the expected length of the trip. That way, if the trip is extended, you won't run out of medicine. Bring a list of your medical conditions and an up-to-date list of your medicines (including dosages). Wear a medical alert bracelet that identifies your condition.Bring a list of the names and phone numbers of your doctors.If you are traveling out of the country, take along the phone numbers and addresses of embassies in the areas you will visit. They can help you find a doctor or hospital.Call in the event of an emergency. If you are in a foreign country, learn the emergency number for that country.For more tips, see the topic Travel Health.If you have a