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Chest pain? Lightheadedness? Heart palpitations? Cannot catch your breath? All of these can be symptoms of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation (AF or AFib) happens when the atria (upper chambers of the heart) lose their regular rhythm and beat chaotically.
When this happens, blood isn’t really streaming through the heart and body efficiently. This inefficient flow can cause blood to pool inside the atria, increasing the risk of blood clots.
Main Causes: Who Gets Atrial Fibrillation?
According to data from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), over 2.3 million individuals in the United States have some type of AFib. Estimates vary extensively due to the problem of identifying different types: 25 to 62 percent of those with AFib have paroxysmal AFib.
AFib happens more often in senior people, and the older you are, the more likely you are to have it. More youthful individuals are more likely to have paroxysmal AFib, as opposed to other types. Those with heart disease, thyroid problems, hypertension or sleep apnea are at higher risk.
Some people might experience a single episode of AFib. However, individuals with irreversible damage to their hearts experience constant, or chronic AFib.
Paroxysmal AFib is an episode of uncoordinated movement of the atria that takes place occasionally then stops. Episodes can last from minutes to days prior to stopping and returning to normal “sinus” rhythm.
Consistent AFib doesn’t stop without treatment, however typical rhythm can be attained with medication or electric shock treatment.
Chronic or irreversible AFib can’t be changed back to regular rhythm, even with medication or electrical shock.
In addition to harm to the heart from heart disease or hypertension, medications and other elements can cause paroxysmal AFib, including:
- binge drinking (4 to 5 beverages within 2 hours)
- stimulant medications and drugs (ex. methylphenidate, pseudoephridrine, drug)
- low potassium (electrolyte imbalance)
- stress (specifically due to disease or surgery)
- viral infections
- heart or heart valve flaws
- overactive thyroid
Symptoms of paroxysmal AFib include lightheadedness, weakness, pounding heart, and chest pain. Nevertheless, additional complications likewise might take place.
Stroke and embolism are the most serious. Blood pooling inside the heart can coagulate and form clots. Those clots can take a trip to the brain, triggering a stroke, according to iytmed.com. They can likewise lodge in the lungs, the gut, and other delicate areas, obstructing blood circulation and starving tissue.
If AFib continues over a long period without treatment, the heart may not successfully press blood and oxygen throughout the body. This might possibly result in heart failure.
Treatment for AFib includes resetting the heart’s rhythm and preventing blood clots.
Regular heart rate can return with paroxysmal AFib. For that reason, medical professionals might try to reset regular rhythm with medications or cardioversion (electrical shock).
Your doctor may recommend an anti-arrhythmic medication like amiodarone (Cordarone) or propafenone (Rythmol) even when typical rhythm has actually returned. They likewise may prescribe beta-blockers to manage blood pressure.
If you experience another episode of AFib, blood-thinning medications like warfarin (Coumadin) may be prescribed to avoid blood clots.
Progression from Paroxysmal to Permanent
After the first episode of AFib, another might occur. A research study released in QJM: An International Journal of Medicine recommends that 70 percent of patients with paroxysmal AFib experience another episode within one year. Additionally, 90 percent of patients have another episode within 4 years.
More than 25 percent of people with paroxysmal AFib will go on to develop persistent or chronic atrial fibrillation. The majority of these cases experience heart disease as well. Rheumatic valve disease, hypertension, and coronary artery disease all consider to establishing chronic AFib.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), if your episodes of paroxysmal AFib last longer than two days, you’re most likely to develop chronic AFib.
Living with Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation
Remaining healthy is key to living a typical, active life with AFib. Treating hidden conditions like high blood pressure, thyroid disease, and weight problems can help in reducing risk factors for an AFib episode.
Prevent stimulants like caffeine and nicotine, and extreme alcohol consumption to prevent added paroxysmal AFib symptoms. Lifestyle changes like developing an exercise routine and minimizing stress help too.
Speak with your doctor and schedule regular checkups.