By Corie RichterOne of the most

By Corie RichterOne of the most common heart ailments is atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is caused by an irregular heartbeat or irregular heart rhythm. Read more about the best way to control atrial fibrillation.

Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart ailment. It affects more than 2 million people, or about 1 percent of the population, who are older than 50 years.

About 5 percent of people who are older than 80 years have atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is an irregular or rapid heart rate which can lead to congestive failure, stroke, blood clots, and death. In cases of atrial fibrillation, the electrical conductivity which sends impulses to the right atria is impaired. Multiple impulses are relayed and the heart muscle response is chaotic. This means the chamber of the heart responsible for contracting and pumping oxygen rich blood to the rest of the body may not function efficiently. A rapid heart rate may not permit efficient and effective pumping, while leading to congestion, failure, or pooling of the blood. With proper treatment, it rarely causes life-threatening problems.

Not all atrial fibrillation is sustained. Occasional atrial fibrillation is called paroxysmal, or triggered by an event.

There are several medications to control the arrhythmia, or irregular rhythm, but experts debate whether to control the rhythm or the rate. The potency of the medications and their side effects must also be considered. A study presented at the 2007 American Heart Association Scientific Session indicated that controlling heart rate may be slightly more important than controlling heart rhythm. Death rates were lower among the rate controlled patients (25.2 percent) than the rhythm controlled group (26.7 percent).

Always check with your cardiologist about vitamin and other supplements. There are many on the over-the-counter medications which interfere with pharmaceuticals. Never give up your prescribed medication in favor of alternatives.

Corie Richter is a nurse and physician”s assistant who started her career as a health educator. The survivor of a myocardial infarction (heart attack) and partially successful quadruple bypass surgery, she did not let her health challenges hamper her. Neither the limitations of spinal surgery nor of diabetes have deterred her from a mission of service. She now encourages others through writing and speaking engagements to master their disabilities through education and a proactive attitude.

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