Like any highly complex device powered by electricity, the body’s heart can misfire causing arrhythmias or erratic heartbeats. The most common of these cardiac electrical problems is atrial fibrillation, according to McLeod Electrophysiologist Rajesh Malik, MD:
Here are important points from Dr. Malik’s comments:
Atrial fibrillation is an arrhythmia where upper heart chambers, particularly the upper left chamber – more so than the right – is firing randomly and you have various areas of electrical impulses being generated in an abnormal manner. Rather than following a simple organized manner, which starts somewhere in the right upper chamber, there are multiple areas firing at random.
There are various theories on why this happens. The most common theory is that there are small areas of re-entry for the signals that can result in multiple activities of atrial fibrillation.
Atrial Fibrillation Symptoms
There are multiple symptoms of atrial fibrillation. It can cause palpitations – a racing of your heart. It can cause shortness of breath. It can cause people to feel very fatigued. The greatest problem is that atrial fibrillation increases the risk of stroke five-fold. Also, if you have a tendency for Congestive Heart Failure, if your heart muscle is weak or if the heart muscles don’t relax enough it can result in Congestive Heart Failure.
The most common arrhythmia causing hospitalization is atrial fibrillation. It seems to be increasing in prevalence.
Electrical impulses are coming in a disorganized manner, leading to the inability for the heart’s upper chamber to contract sufficiently, as well as very erratic beating of the lower chamber.
The symptoms are related to the improper filling of the heart’s bottom chambers and rapid or irregular heart rate.
Correcting the Problem.
Atrial Fibrillation Ablation is an electrophysiology or a surgical technique to correct and reorganize the electrical activation of the heart. It may involve the left or right upper chambers of the heart.
Simply put, ablation for atrial fibrillation involves strategies for rerouting your heart’s electrical activation in the upper right or left chambers. You can use heat in the form of radio frequency. Or you can use freezing techniques in the form of cryoablation. And the use of ultrasound and laser are also under investigation for use in ablation.
Radiofrequency ablation is a sophisticated form of cautery (burning with heat). You are using heat to destroy the tissue that is abnormal. Cryoablation means you are using freezing, where you lowering the temperature, resulting in crystallization water inside the cells. The resulting cellular damage causes scars destroying the abnormal tissue. In one technique you use heat. In the other, you use the freezing.
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