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What causes atrial fibrillation (AFib)?

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Electrical signals make the heart beat in a coordinated way. First, the upper chambers called atria squeeze, or contract. Then, the signal travels to the lower chambers called ventricles. They squeeze and pump out blood to the lungs and body.

If you have atrial fibrillation, or AFib, these signals don't fire normally. Instead of contracting, the atria flutter. The flutters are too weak to send enough blood into the ventricles. I you have AFib with rapid ventricular response, the ventricles also beat too fast. These beats are too weak to push enough blood out of the heart to the lungs and body.

SOURCES:

Alexander, E. , 2012. AACN Advanced Critical Care

American Heart Association: "Cardioversion."

American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology Foundation: "Management of Patients with Atrial Fibrillation."

Anter, E. , 2009. Circulation

Brady, W.J. , 2012. The ECG in Prehospital Emergency Care

Cleveland Clinic: "How Does the Heart Beat," "Pulmonary Vein Isolation Ablation."

Goroll, Allan H. . Primary Care Medicine: Office Evaluation and Management of the Adult Patient

Mann, Douglas L. , 2014. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine

Shenasa, M. , 2015. Management of Atrial Fibrillation: A Practical Approach

StopAfib.org: "What Causes Atrial Fibrillation?"

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: "What Is Atrial Fibrillation?"

Reviewed by Nayana Ambardekar on May 9, 2018

SOURCES:

Alexander, E. , 2012. AACN Advanced Critical Care

American Heart Association: "Cardioversion."

American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology Foundation: "Management of Patients with Atrial Fibrillation."

Anter, E. , 2009. Circulation

Brady, W.J. , 2012. The ECG in Prehospital Emergency Care

Cleveland Clinic: "How Does the Heart Beat," "Pulmonary Vein Isolation Ablation."

Goroll, Allan H. . Primary Care Medicine: Office Evaluation and Management of the Adult Patient

Mann, Douglas L. , 2014. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine

Shenasa, M. , 2015. Management of Atrial Fibrillation: A Practical Approach

StopAfib.org: "What Causes Atrial Fibrillation?"

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: "What Is Atrial Fibrillation?"

Reviewed by Nayana Ambardekar on May 9, 2018

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What is your heart beat like if you have atrial fibrillation (AFib)?

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