Atrial fibrillation is a type of heart arrhythmia that causes a rapid and irregular heartbeat. The condition starts when your heart's upper and lower chambers get out of sync due to chaotic electrical signals.
Normally, the heart's pacemaker triggers the electrical signals that control your heartbeat. When you have atrial fibrillation, many electrical impulses fire at the same time, resulting in a fast, chaotic rhythm.
The rapid heartbeat prevents the heart muscles from contracting and pushing blood through the heart. As a result, the blood flow slows down, and clots develop.
As long as the blood clots stay in your heart, they don’t cause problems. If the clot leaves your heart, it can travel to the brain and cause a stroke or get into your lungs and result in a pulmonary embolism.
Atrial fibrillation typically develops when something damages the heart’s electrical system or the muscles. A few of the most common causes include:
Some people develop atrial fibrillation due to the physical stress of surgery or illnesses.
Atrial fibrillation often causes:
Heart palpitations occur when you can feel your heart beating rapidly, irregularly, or chaotically.
The team at Coastal Cardiology of Orange County treats atrial fibrillation using medical and catheter-based procedures. The treatments they choose focus on controlling your heart rate and preventing clots from developing or leaving your heart.
Your treatment plan may include any of the following:
Cardiac ablation is a catheter-based procedure. Your provider makes a small incision, inserts the catheter into a blood vessel, and guides it to your heart. Then they use the catheter to send out controlled radiofrequency energy, using its heat to destroy the tissues causing your atrial fibrillation.
In some cases, they may use the catheter to perform cryoablation (freezing the heart tissue) or heat from a laser.
Coastal Cardiology of Orange County may also perform a catheter procedure to block or cut off the area of your heart where blood clots accumulate, preventing them from leaving your heart.
If you have a fast or irregular heartbeat, don't wait to schedule an appointment. Call Coastal Cardiology of Orange County, or use the online booking feature today.