Atrial fibrillation (AF) has various causes (also known to be associated with many cardiac conditons) or triggers, sometimes being a one time-only occurrence, or may/can come and go, or be chronic.
During AF, electrical signals in the atria occur in a very fast, uncontrolled, and chaotic manner so that the atria quiver instead of contract, producing ineffective and disorganized atrial contractions. These disorganized electrical signals then arrive at the ventricles in an irregular fashion.
As reported, AF is an independent risk factor for a brain attack/stroke (increasing the risk about 5-fold), and significantly increases all-cause mortality in most age groups. Additionally, some individuals with AF are at an increased risk of heart failure or cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease).
There are a small % of individuals in which a reversible cause for AF can be readily identified, e.g., alcoholism, hyperthyroidism, or diabetes, and thus AF does not recur once the cause has been alleviated.
As applicable, goals for managing recurrent or chronic AF are to restore and maintain the normal atrial rhythm and pumping function, control the ventricular rate, prevent any correlating major adverse cardiac event.
Correct any electrolyte imbalance/defficiency, in particular, potassium, magnesium. Consider cardioversion (externally shocking the heart into normal sinus rhythm, which may/can fail). Control the ventricular response. Consider anticoagulation (Coumadin) therapy, or new drugs that may be/are becoming available.
Additionally, as applicable to the patient, surpraventricular tachycardia (SVT), has various causes or triggers. Paroxsymal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT) typically causes a frightening burst/surge in heart/pulse rate that begins/starts and ends/stops suddenly (hence the term paroxsymal), which can last for just mere seconds or it can continue on for minutes to hours to days. SVT/PSVT can send the heart into speeds up to 150-200 BPM,and sometimes, even as high as 300 BPM.
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