What Causes Atrial Fibrillation?

Posted on Dec 16, 2014 in Featured, Health

Before learning what causes atrial fibrillation you need to understand a thing or two about the human heart. First of all it is needless to say that our heart is the engine that powers all the functions of our body. As our main engine , the heart is composed out of four chambers. The two chambers from the upper part of the heart are called the atria and the lower chambers are called ventricles. In the right atrium there is a group of cells that produce the impulse which generates the heartbeat. These cells are called the sinus node and they act as a natural pacemaker. The signal produced by the sinus node passes through the atria pumping blood to the ventricles and then the signal passes through a pathway which link the atria with the ventricles. When the signal passes through this pathway also known as AV node ( atrioventricular node), the ventricles contract pumping the blood out to the body.


The easiest way to understand what causes atrial fibrillation is to imagine a disequilibrium in the normal rhythm of the signals produced by the sinus node. The resulted chaotic signals quiver and overload the AV node. As the chaotic signals try to pass through the AV node both the atria and the ventricles beat in a rapid rhythm. When this happens people can experience a lot of symptoms such as palpitations, faintness, anxiety, weakness, shortness of breath, chest pain, angina or lack of energy. Some of these symptoms can even be dangerous and need immediate interventions. Decompensated congestive heart failure, hypotension or chronic chest pains should be taken very serious as they require immediate medical attention.

After understanding what happens when the heart is dealing with chaotic signals you are probably wondering what causes atrial fibrillation. In most cases this condition is associated with age. As the heart gets older it starts to show signs of weakness such as hypertension, pericarditis , congenital heart disease, Mitral valve disease,coronary artery disease and cardiomyopathy. There are also a lot of other causes of atrial fibrillation such as previous heart surgeries, hyperthyroidism, sleep apnea, smoking, abuse of alcohol and caffeine, atrial flutter, pneumonia, lung cancer, emphysema, chest infections, pulmonary embolism or carbon monoxide poisoning. However there are a lot of situations where the real cause of atrial fibrillation cannot be found and even young people can be affected by it. If the correct treatment is administered A fib can be kept under control but patients should pay more attention to their life style in order to avoid more serious problems.