Atrial fibrillation, or Afib, is the most common abnormal heartbeat, or arrhythmia. The upper chambers, or atria, of the heart beat very rapidly and out of sync, which results in the quivering, or fibrillation, of the heart walls. The precise mechanisms contributing to atrial fibrillation are not completely understood, but it has strong associations with other cardiovascular diseases.
Atrial fibrillation can be categorized as paroxysmal (lasting less than 7-days), persistent (lasting more than 7-days), or permanent (persisting for more than 1-year). The majority of episodes resolve in less than 24-hours. Twelve causes of atrial fibrillation include…
1. Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary artery disease (CAD) refers to the narrowing or blockage of arteries in the heart. It is the most common cause of death among men and women in the United States. The most common cause of CAD is atherosclerosis, which is the deposition of cholesterol and fat in the inner walls of arteries. It robs the heart muscle of its blood supply causing oxygen starvation, which leads to chest pain, or angina, and ultimately a heart attack.
Coronary artery disease’s contribution to the development of atrial fibrillation is thought to be oxygen starvation, or ischemia, of the atria (upper chambers of the heart). As a result, a key strategy in the treatment of atrial fibrillation is the administration of a class of drugs called the calcium channel blockers. These drugs cause arteries to relax and widen, which increases oxygen delivery to oxygen starved heart muscle cells.