7 Causes of Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation, also called AFib, is an irregular beating of the heart, caused by the atria and ventricles, the chambers of the heart, not pulsating in synchronization. More specifically, the electrical impulses that are discharged from different areas in the atria, which are the top chambers, are emmitted in a chaotic way that causes them to move spasmodically. This results in a fast and irregular heartbeat.

In general, our heart beats between 60 to 100 times per minute, but for individuals with atrial fibrillation, the range increases to about 100 to 175 beats per minute. Atrial fibrillation may increase your risk of stroke and other heart related conditions, such as heart failure. The risk of stroke increases with age and other factors like having high blood pressure or diabetes. Atrial fibrillation might weaken the heart muscle, which can lead to heart failure.

There are many causes of the condition, but abnormalities or injury to the heart muscle are the most prevalent. Other potential causes include elevated blood pressure, viral infections, lung diseases, sleep apnea, or stimulants such as caffeine or alcohol. Signs of the condition include heart palpitations, weakness, fatigue, confusion, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, breathlessness, and feeling lightheaded or dizzy. Symptoms may last a few minutes, several hours or they can come and go.

1. High Blood Pressure

Long-term high blood pressure that’s not treated is one of the most frequent causes of atrial fibrillation. Your chances of having both conditions simultaneously increase as you age. The additional force of blood flow caused by high blood pressure accelerates normal wear and tear. In addition, the extra pressure against your artery walls creates cracks where plaque buildup can form, eventually narrowing the artery and cutting blood flow.

This damage can lead to conditions like atrial fibrillation, as the heart won’t function properly and its regular pattern will be interrupted. If you have elevated blood pressure and atrial fibrillation at the same time, your risk of having a stroke increases significantly. If your blood isn’t flowing properly, it can pool and form a bloodclot, that can move throughout your body. If the clot is in an artery that supplies blood to the brain, it can cause a stroke. In addition, the damage to arteries caused by high blood pressure weakens them, making them more susceptible to rupturing. If this happens in your brain, it will cause a stroke.