Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is the most common type of abnormal heartbeat, arrhythmia, and affects nearly 1% of the population.  Its prevalence increases with increasing age; it is relatively infrequent in those under 40 years old, but occurs in up to 5% of those over 80 years of age.

Although often not considered life-threatening itself, AF should be taken seriously because it can lead to more serious conditions such as other heart rhythm disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, stroke, and congestive heart failure. At Beverly Hills Cardiology based in Los Angeles, we understand how important it is to manage your atrial fibrillation. Dr. Shervin Eshaghian is a leader in the diagnosis and treatment of Atrial fibrillation and other cardiac arrhythmias.

What Is Atrial Fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation originates in various areas of the 2 upper chambers of the heart (the atria), begins in multiple sites in a chaotic pattern, and causes them to contract irregularly and quickly.  Instead of beating in a productive, regular rhythm, a heart in Atrial fibrillation beats very rapidly, irregularly, and ineffectively. During atrial fibrillation, the atria do not pump blood as effectively as they normally should. In some cases, blood in the atria, which is not being pumped out effectively, can stagnate and clot. If these clots break up or break off, they may pass into the left ventricle, travel through the blood stream and block a smaller artery. If this happens in the brain, it can cause a stroke. Therefore, diagnosis, careful monitoring and treatment are all important aspects of managing atrial fibrillation.

Dr. Shervin Eshaghian of Beverly Hills Cardiology will work with you to determine your risk of having a future stroke, and prescribes appropriate treatments to reduce this risk.

Atrial Fibrillation Symptoms

Atrial fibrillation can occur periodically (paroxysmal) or continuously (chronic). The symptoms vary between individuals and can sometimes be subtle and barely noticeable. But for many people the symptoms of AF are obvious, uncomfortable, and even frightening. These symptoms can include a combination of the following sensations:

Heart Palpitations
A feeling of weakness, or fainting (Syncope)
Dizziness or faintness
Shortness of breath
Skipped heartbeats that are followed by a thud and acceleration of the heart
Chest pain, especially in adults who are older than 65
Rarely, blood pressure may fall and cause shock. This usually only occurs in individuals who also have severe heart disease.
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Causes of Atrial Fibrillation

There is a wide range of causes for the abnormal electrical signals of Atrial Fibrillation including:

Heart disease, such as cardiomyopathy, coronary artery disease, valvular heart disease, and ventricular hypertrophy
Medical conditions such as high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, and clogged arteries (atherosclerosis)
Heart surgery, including valve surgery and coronary artery bypass
Stress, fatigue, and excessive alcohol, caffeine, or nicotine consumption
Obstructive sleep apnea

Treatments Available for Atrial Fibrillation

With recent advances in drug and interventional treatments in Los Angeles, a satisfactory outcome is now usually eventually obtained in most patients.

  • DC Cardioversion
    • DC cardioversion is used to restore sinus rhythm in those with persistent AF
  • Rate Limiting Drugs
    • Rate limiting drugs limit the number of impulses transmitted and slow the heart rate to make the patient more comfortable.
  • Antiarrhythmic Drugs
    • Antiarrhythmic drugs reduce the frequency and duration of Atrial fibrillation episodes
  • Anticoagulant and Antiplatelet Drugs
    • These medications thin the blood and make it less prone to clotting, thereby reducing the risk of stroke.
  • Radiofrequency Ablation and Surgery
    • Over the last 10 years, ablation therapy for treatment of atrial fibrillation has gained huge traction. It causes selective elimination of one or more sites in the atria to reduce the chance that AF will occur.

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If you live in Beverly Hills or Los Angeles please schedule your consultation with Dr. Eshaghian by calling (310) 858-6500

In order to discover more about Atrial Fibrillation and its potential causes and ramifications please view this PDF by the American Heart Association.

If you have more symptoms not described in this article please visit our conditions page for a complete list of conditions provided by Beverly Hills Cardiology located in Los Angeles, California.Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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