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Atrial Fibrillation

Cardiology Specialists of Orange County

Board Certified in Cardiovascular Diseases & Interventional Cardiology located in Santa Ana, CA; Newport Beach, CA; & Irvine, CA

Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a form of arrhythmia where your heartbeat becomes irregular. If you have symptoms of arrhythmia or AFib, Cardiology Specialists of Orange County's knowledgeable, experienced cardiovascular experts can help. At the locations in Santa Ana, Irvine, and Newport Beach, California, the cardiology teams provide diagnostic expertise at their state-of-the-art labs, as well as advanced treatments for the causes of AFib. For prompt, effective solutions for your heart problems, call the office closest to you or book an appointment online today.

Atrial Fibrillation Q & A

What is atrial fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is the most widespread form of arrhythmia, making your heart beat irregularly instead of in a smooth, constant rhythm.

The cause of Afib is an electrical malfunction where the upper chambers (atria) of your heart quiver rather than beating properly, meaning blood doesn't move into the ventricles as it should.

As a result, the atria are beating too quickly while the lower ventricles are too slow, causing the irregular heartbeat typical of atrial fibrillation.

What causes atrial fibrillation?

AFib can develop as a result of having conditions such as:

  • Obesity
  • Heart attacks
  • Thyroid disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Sleep apnea
  • Congenital heart defects

Stimulants like caffeine and tobacco and certain medications can sometimes cause atrial fibrillation. You could also experience Afib without there being any apparent underlying reason.

What other symptoms can atrial fibrillation cause?

You might not experience any other symptoms apart from the irregular heartbeat when you have AFib, or you might have problems such as:

  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty exercising
  • Recurrent syncope (fainting)
  • Palpitations

Without timely treatment at Cardiology Specialists of Orange County, you could develop potentially life-threatening complications such as heart failure or stroke.

How is AFib diagnosed?

Cardiology Specialists of Orange County has state-of-the-art non-invasive lab facilities at all its locations. There you can undergo tests to confirm the cause of your atrial fibrillation, which could include:

  • Electrocardiogram
  • Echocardiogram
  • Holter monitoring
  • Event monitoring
  • Blood tests

Depending on your test results, you might need to take medication or undergo a surgical procedure to address the cause of your atrial fibrillation.

How is atrial fibrillation treated?

Medications like beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers can help by slowing your heart rate down. You might also need to take anticoagulants (blood-thining medicines) to reduce your risk of having a stroke.

For some people, avoiding caffeine might be all they need to do to address their atrial fibrillation. Treating the underlying cause is also crucial; for example, managing hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland).

If your AFib is due to extra electrical currents in your pulmonary (lung) veins, pulmonary vein isolation ablation (PVA or PVI ablation) can restore a normal heart rhythm. AV (atrioventricular) node ablation is a similar procedure but targets faulty cells in the node that sends out the electrical signals to your heart. You might also require a pacemaker.

If you experience the distressing feeling of having an irregular heartbeat, call Cardiology Specialists of Orange County for advice or book an appointment online today.