Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is the most common type of abnormal heart rhythm. It happens when the upper chambers of your heart, called the atria, quiver, causing your heart to beat irregularly.

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Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a heart arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) that may contribute to other health conditions and can increase your chances of having a stroke.

AFib is treatable, but it can play a role in many other serious heart problems. This article will explore some of the possible causes or triggers of AFib and what you can (or can’t) do to prevent this condition.

Here’s more information about AFib.

AFib is a malfunction in your heart’s electrical system. Typically, the two upper chambers of your heart (atria) and the two bottom chambers (ventricles) beat in a timed coordination to move blood through the four chambers of your heart, through your lungs, and to the rest of your body.

When you have AFib, this movement becomes uncoordinated, interfering with the movement of blood through your heart.

While the exact cause of AFib is unclear, researchers have identified that AFib is most often triggered by abnormal tissue near the pulmonary veins. Treatment for AFIB may involve a procedure called ablation which uses heat or cold to remove some of this abnormal tissue near the pulmonaty vien.

AFib becomes more likely as people age, and it’s more common in people who have certain heart conditions, obesity, high blood pressure, and other health conditions.

Many people develop AFib as part of the typical aging process. Some health conditions can increase your risk of developing it. Advanced age and high blood pressure are among the most common risk factors associated with AFib.

Other risk factors that have been associated with a higher risk of AFib include:

You may not be able to prevent AFib if you have a strong family history of this condition. People of European ancestry have some of the highest rates of AFib. Additionally, some people cannot avoid health conditions such as thyroid dysfunction and diabetes, which can be associated with AFib.

Still, maintaining an overall heart-healthy lifestyle can help you avoid a variety of cardiac problems, including AFib.

Heart-healthy habits that may help you avoid various heart conditions include:

AFib is treatable, but it can still be dangerous. It’s believed to play a role in the deaths of nearly 160,000 people every year, and the rate of deaths in which AFib has played a role has been increasing for the last 20 years.

AFib is treated using medications and procedures, and the main goal is to regulate the rhythm and rate of your heart is the main method of treating AFib. Learn more about treating AFib.

Medications that help regulate your heart rate and rhythm, such as beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, or antiarrhythmics are usually used. Your healthcare professional may also give you medications to help prevent blood clots that might form as a side effect of AFib. AFib can cause blood to collect in the atria, and clots that form in this collected blood can increase your risk of a stroke or heart attack.

Following a treatment regimen is the most important way to improve your outlook if you have AFib. This usually means working with your cardiologist and other healthcare professional to find the right medications and treatments to help regulate your heart rate and prevent complications of AFib.

Treatment strategies for AFib usually include:

How serious is being in AFib?

AFib is a serious condition that can increase your risk for dangerous cardiac events or long-term heart disease. For many people, AFib is a long-term condition that can be managed with medication. When AFib is more difficult to manage, it may require other treatments, such as cardioversion or surgery.

Is AFib caused by stress?

Stress is not a primary cause of AFib, but it has been linked to AFib as a risk factor.

Can AFib cause other health problems?

AFib can increase your risk of many complications, including heart failure and stroke. Regulating your heart rate and rhythm in AFib is crucial to preventing additional problems.

AFib is a problem with the electrical signals in your heart. Many risk factors are associated with the development of AFib, and not all of them are avoidable.

If you receive a diagnosis of AFib, sticking to the treatment plan your healthcare professional creates is the best way to improve your outlook and prevent possibly fatal complications.