August 2, 2011
Atrial fibrillation is a disturbance of the rhythm of the heartbeat that causes it to be completely irregular. There are often no symptoms, but the most common one is palpitations or increased awareness of your own heartbeat. Some people may have dizziness, fainting spells, or chest pain. Atrial fibrillation may be caused by many kinds of heart disease, by a thyroid problem, or by alcohol use. If it is not treated, there may be a risk of developing blood clots or heart failure.
Instructions for care :
- You may need to take medication for this rhythm problem.
- If you smoke, you should quit. Smoking will increase your risk of having complications.
- Avoid consuming alcohol because it may make your heart problem worse.
- Avoid drinking regular coffee, cola drinks, cocoa, and tea because they all contain caffeine, which may make your heart problem worse. You may drink decaffeinated coffee, tea, or cola drinks.
- If you are overweight, you should choose a moderate reducing diet to lose weight. DO NOT use diet pills because they may make your heart problem worse. If you have another heart problem that is causing the atrial fibrillation, you may need to eat a low-salt or low-fat diet. Your doctor will tell you if this is necessary.
- Daily exercise to improve your physical fitness is helpful. Stay as active as you can unless your doctor instructs otherwise.
Call your doctor if:
- You notice a change in the rate, rhythm, or strength of your heartbeat.
Return to the emergency room if:
- You develop chest pain, sweating and weakness.
- You develop shortness of breath or swollen feet and ankles.
- You develop dizziness, numbness or weakness of your face or limbs, or any change in vision or speech.