Atrial Fibrillation: The Heart is FragileAtrial Fibrillation: Pacemaker surgery

Life Expectancy with Atrial Fibrillation

Many people live long and fulfilling lives after they have been diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation. So, life expectancy with atrial fibrillation may be no different than for anyone else. If it was caused by heart surgery, it probably will eventually go away without medical intervention.

Atrial fibrillation or ‘a fib,’ is an electrical disorder of the heart. It’s when the upper chambers of the heart do not beat properly. Instead of a steady rhythmic beat, the upper chambers spasm, quiver or beat too fast. Blood is then not properly pumped throughout the brain and body and may pool in the upper heart chambers causing blood clots.

Atrial fibrillation is a kind of cardiac arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat and may result in fainting, heart palpitations or even heart failure. This condition could possibly be life threatening if left untreated. Early detection and diagnosis offers a tremendous advantage in living successfully with this condition.

Life Expectancy with Atrial Fibrillation: What does it mean?

It is a common heart affliction among older people and can be quite frustrating to live with. It is also the most common complication after heart bypass surgery. Children and adolescents are rarely diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. It is usually thought of as a malady of people over 40 and affects men more than women. Because of secondary health problems caused by atrial fibrillation, life expectancy may be affected.

However, the human body is not a machine and the practice of medicine is as much an art as it is a science. Because the human factor is the greatest of unknowns, it would be unethical and irresponsible for anyone to assume how long another will live. The human will can overcome extraordinary odds.

It is true that atrial fibrillation may lead to other, more serious, health issues such as cerebral embolism and stroke but this is not always the case. After being diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, many people live decades more.

If you have been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, it is to your advantage to learn all you can about it and use the diagnosis to spur you into living the healthiest lifestyle possible.

A more precise explanation of atrial fibrillation is that it is an irregular rhythm of the heart resulting from highly chaotic electrical impulses generated from the two upper chambers of the heart. These two upper heart chambers are called ‘atria.’ And the pattern of rapid spasmodic electrical signals is called ‘fibrillation.’

What Happens When The Heart Begins Fibrillating?

The moment the heart’s atria begin fibrillating, three things occur. Initially, the heart beats very rapidly and irregularly as the electrical nodes in the top of the heart are overwhelmed with chaotic electrical impulses. This can cause the heart to beat as much as 200 times a minute.

Once the atria begin to spasm, it does not properly contract. This throws off the essential coordination between the top chambers of the heart and the lower chambers. Essentially the chambers of the heart are out of phase and cannot efficiently pump blood.

When blood does not move efficiently for more than a day, blood clots begin to form in the upper chambers of the heart. In time, these blot clots might enter the bloodstream and move to the heart where they may cause a blockage and stroke.

Some people experiencing atrial fibrillation may only suffer minimal symptoms, but usually the symptoms are more pronounced and concerning. Heart palpitations are often the most common. Fatigue, shortness of breath, light-headedness and fainting are also common.

Chest Pain.

People with a history of heart disease may also experience increased chest pain. And those with congestive heart failure usually experience significant decline after experiencing atrial fibrillation.

If the spasms of heart are excessively fast and last for several months, the muscle of the heart can be irreversibly damaged. Still, the most serious consequence of atrial fibrillation is the risk of stroke.

The precise cause of atrial fibrillation is not known. However, in older adults there appears to be a connection between the condition and a multitude of other health concerns, principally heart disease, hypertension, congestive heart failure and damaged heart valves.

Energy Drinks and Atrial Fibrillation.

Caffeine, energy drinks, cocaine, amphetamines, over the counter cold medicines, pseudoephedrine and most stimulates can cause atrial fibrillation. For some people only a couple of alcoholic drinks might cause it, a condition known as holiday heart.

Naturally, continued drug abuse after a diagnosis can dramatically shorten one’s life expectancy with atrial fibrillation.

However, by far, most people have no specific reason for atrial fibrillation. A doctor might describe the occurrence of atrial fibrillation as ‘idiopathic’ atrial fibrillation. This simply means there is no obvious reason for it. This most often happens in the elderly, those who are over eighty years old. Although, sometimes people in their fifties will be diagnosed with it.

Atrial Fibrillation: An age related disease.

Atrial fibrillation does occur in younger adults too, but usually after years of alcohol and drug abuse. Usually when a younger adult is diagnosed it is the result of drug withdrawal. In such cases, life expectancy with atrial fibrillation is directly dependent on the young adult overcoming their addiction.

After the age of sixty five, the risk of stroke for someone with atrial fibrillation increases. If other health concerns are also present, this risk may be substantial. Health issues that may reduce life expectancy with atrial fibrillation include high blood pressure, diabetes, heart failure, blood clots and a history of previous strokes. Blood thinning medication is thought to reduce these risk factors and contribute to a longer life.

A Technological Boost to Life Expectancy with Atrial Fibrillation.

A pacemaker may also increase the life expectancy with atrial fibrillation. Once a patient is fitted with a pacemaker, the device can detect irregular pulses in the heart and send a mild electrical signal to the heart. This signal stimulates the heart to beat a strong and consistent rhythm. Fitting a patient with a pacemaker usually involves minor surgery and is often highly successful in regulating atrial fibrillation.

Atrial Fibrillation: What it can teach you.

Our life may sometimes feel like a burden and a never ending race around a treadmill. When we are so busy, particularly when we have so busy for years and decades, it’s natural to lose perspective and miss what a miracle our life truly is.

If you have received the diagnosis of atrial fibrillation or some other diagnosis that may have frightened you, use it as a wake up call. Death is what gives life meaning. Below you will find a list of the things dying people have said they most regret. You sill have time to love, to feel the sun’s warmth on your skin, the touch of someone you love.

If your doctor has said you are dying, you may find help in the following articles.

Article: Regrets of the dying:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

The full article can be read here: 

Article: Advice On Dying.

Written by a doctor dying of cancer this brief article is heartfelt, wise and genuine. Read the full article here: 

To learn more about life expectancy with atrial fibrillation click here.

Suggested Reading:

To read about atrial fibrillation ablation, click here.

To read about sick sinus syndrome, click here.

To read about the causes of atrial fibrillation, click here.

To read Atrial Fibrillation Guidelines, go here.

To learn more about Lone Atrial Fibrillation, go here.


Photo Credits:

Doctor Holding Pacemaker

Paper Heart


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