About a month ago, I developed heart flutter, which is a heartbeat disorder. Each heart flutter lasted about 2-3 seconds. Each time I get a fluttering sensation in my chest, it would immediately be followed by what I would describe as a ‘catch’ in my breath, and then a need to cough to ‘set things right again”. As it only occurred about 2-3 times in a month, I did not give much thought about it. When my parents were here last weekend, I experienced another heart fluttering episode. I told my mum about it and she told me that she suffered from this condition too when she was about my age and was under lots of work stress and lack of sleep! She hasn’t had any heart fluttering episode ever since she retired from work.
Since I have no history of heart disorder or lung disease, from my own reading and research from the internet, I can only deduce that my heart fluttering is caused by family history (my mum had it), stress and most importantly, lack of sleep.
I did a full medical check-up in June, which included an ECG and the report showed normal heartbeats. But my doctor did mention that my heartbeats are fast and it’s most likely contributed by my daily exercise.
What is Atrial Fibrillation?
Atrial fibrillation is an irregular and often rapid heart rate that commonly causes poor blood flow to the body. During atrial fibrillation, the heart’s two upper chambers (the atria) beat chaotically and irregularly — out of coordination with the two lower chambers (the ventricles) of the heart. Atrial fibrillation symptoms often include heart palpitations, shortness of breath and weakness.
Episodes of atrial fibrillation can come and go, or you may develop atrial fibrillation that doesn’t go away and may require treatment. Although atrial fibrillation itself usually isn’t life-threatening, it is a serious medical condition that sometimes requires emergency treatment. It can lead to complications. Atrial fibrillation may lead to blood clots forming in the heart that may circulate to other organs and lead to blocked blood flow (ischemia).
Treatments for atrial fibrillation may include medications and other interventions to try to alter the heart’s electrical system.
Those who do have atrial fibrillation symptoms may experience signs and symptoms such as:
Palpitations, which are sensations of a racing, uncomfortable, irregular heartbeat or a flip-flopping in your chest
Reduced ability to exercise
Shortness of breath
How Often Does It Happen?
Atrial fibrillation may be:
Occasional. In this case it’s called paroxysmal (par-ok-SIZ-mul) atrial fibrillation. You may have symptoms that come and go, lasting for a few minutes to hours and then stopping on their own. I believe I fall into this category!
Persistent. With this type of atrial fibrillation, your heart rhythm doesn’t go back to normal on its own. If you have persistent atrial fibrillation, you’ll need treatment such as an electrical shock or medications in order to restore your heart rhythm.
Permanent. In this type of atrial fibrillation, the normal heart rhythm can’t be restored. You’ll have atrial fibrillation permanently, and you’ll often require medications to control your heart rate. Most people with permanent atrial fibrillation will require blood thinners to prevent blood clots.
Possible causes of atrial fibrillation
Abnormalities or damage to the heart’s structure are the most common cause of atrial fibrillation. Possible causes of atrial fibrillation include:
- High blood pressure
- Heart attacks
- Coronary artery disease
- Abnormal heart valves
- Heart defects you’re born with (congenital)
- An overactive thyroid gland or other metabolic imbalance
- Exposure to stimulants, such as medications, caffeine or tobacco, or to alcohol
- Sick sinus syndrome — improper functioning of the heart’s natural pacemaker
- Lung diseases
- Previous heart surgery
- Viral infections
- Stress due to pneumonia, surgery or other illnesses
- Sleep apnea
However, some people who have atrial fibrillation don’t have any heart defects or damage, a condition called lone atrial fibrillation. In lone atrial fibrillation, the cause is often unclear, and serious complications are rare.
Certain factors may increase your risk of developing atrial fibrillation.
- Age. The older you are, the greater your risk of developing atrial fibrillation.
- Heart disease. Anyone with heart disease — such as heart valve problems, congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, or a history of heart attack or heart surgery — has an increased risk of atrial fibrillation.
- High blood pressure. Having high blood pressure, especially if it’s not well-controlled with lifestyle changes or medications, can increase your risk of atrial fibrillation.
- Other chronic conditions. People with certain chronic conditions such as thyroid problems, sleep apnea, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, chronic kidney disease or lung disease have an increased risk of atrial fibrillation.
- Drinking alcohol. For some people, drinking alcohol can trigger an episode of atrial fibrillation. Binge drinking may put you at an even higher risk.
- Obesity. People who are obese are at higher risk of developing atrial fibrillation.
- Family history. An increased risk of atrial fibrillation is present in some families
Sometimes atrial fibrillation can lead to the following complications:
- Stroke. In atrial fibrillation, the chaotic rhythm may cause blood to pool in your heart’s upper chambers (atria) and form clots. If a blood clot forms, it could dislodge from your heart and travel to your brain. There it might block blood flow, causing a stroke.The risk of stroke in atrial fibrillation depends on your age (you have a higher risk as you age) and on whether you have high blood pressure, diabetes, a history of heart failure or previous stroke, and other factors. Certain medications, such as blood thinners, can greatly lower your risk of stroke or the damage to other organs caused by blood clots.
- Heart failure. Atrial fibrillation, especially if not controlled, may weaken the heart and lead to heart failure — a condition in which your heart can’t circulate enough blood to meet your body’s needs.
Lifestyle And Home Remedies
You may need to make lifestyle changes that improve the overall health of your heart, especially to prevent or treat conditions such as high blood pressure and heart disease. Your doctor may suggest several lifestyle changes, including:
- Eat heart-healthy foods.Eat a healthy diet that’s low in salt and solid fats and rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise daily and increase your physical activity.
- Quit smoking. If you smoke and can’t quit on your own, talk to your doctor about strategies or programs to help you break a smoking habit.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight increases your risk of developing heart disease.
- Keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control. Make lifestyle changes and take medications as prescribed to correct high blood pressure (hypertension) or high cholesterol.
- Drink alcohol in moderation. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger.
- Maintain follow-up care. Take your medications as prescribed and have regular follow-up appointments with your doctor. Tell your doctor if your symptoms worsen.
To prevent atrial fibrillation, it’s important to live a heart-healthy lifestyle to reduce your risk of heart disease. A healthy lifestyle may include:
- Eating a heart-healthy diet
- Increasing your physical activity
- Avoiding smoking
- Keeping a healthy weight
- Limiting or avoiding caffeine and alcohol
- Reducing stress, as intense stress and anger can cause heart rhythm problems
- Using over-the-counter medications with caution, as some cold and cough medications contain stimulants that may trigger a rapid heartbeat
Did I see the word anger and stress above?!! Those look like everyday words to me!! From now onwards, I have to remind myself every single day to keep calm and to keep stress and anger at bay! I know it’s not easy but practice makes perfect! It’s pointless being a perfectionist when you don’t live to reap the benefits. So yeah, I am going to try taking things easy. So what if my kids don’t score As in their exams or if the house is not 100% clean? I’m going to take imperfections in stride and include them as a part of my life! I will try to leave my work desk by 10:30pm every day (or even earlier) so that I get at least 6 hours of sleep each day. Work can continue the next day. And I will continue with consuming Izumio hydrogen water and Super Lutein as both products have proven to improve heart disorders.