Atrial fibrillation is a condition that occurs when you have an abnormality in the way that your heart beats. This can be a scary thing to have as you will in most cases feel your heart beating very fast and you may have no idea what is actually going on. This is particularly alarming for people when it happens for the first time. However in most cases you can visit your doctor as soon as possible and they will be able to treat it. Sometimes the abnormal beat known as atrial fibrillation will go away on its own and if this is the case you must still visit your doctor as soon as you can and let them know what has happened. If you do need treatment then you will most likely need to go to hospital where there are various options that can be tried in order to get your heart beating normally again.
An episode of atrial fibrillation occurs when for some reason your heart decides that it does not want to beat in a normal rhythm. The rhythm that it likes to beat in is irregular and has a much faster rate than normal and this may make you feel uncomfortable and perhaps even a bit scared. In many people this is a rhythm that only lasts for a short period of time such as two days or less. However in other people this is a rhythm that may last for a long time, or come and go as it pleases. The normal human heartbeat is controlled by a pacemaker that generates an electrical signal and allows the muscle in the heart to contract and thus pumping the blood around the body. Usually your heart will beat at around 60-80 beats per minute when you are at rest. However in atrial fibrillation the rate can be faster than 140 beats in a minute. In atrial fibrillation the normal pacemaker known as your sinoatrial node sends off too many signals at the same time and as a result you get a very fast and irregular heartbeat. We know that men are more likely to suffer from atrial fibrillation, though we do not know why this is. Other people who are at a higher risk of atrial fibrillation are those who are elderly, have high blood pressure, or have other problems with their hearts. We can occasionally link this condition with heavy alcohol consumption, lung diseases, diabetes, and additional problems with the thyroid gland. It is also known that having atrial fibrillation puts you at a higher risk of suffering from a stroke. Fortunately there are many good treatments that are now available in order to treat atrial fibrillation and you should discuss these with your doctor if you think that this is a problem for you.