Atrial Fibrillation (Afib)

What is Atrial Fibrillation? Atrial fibrillation (Afib) is an irregular and often rapid heart rate that can increase the risk of stroke, heart failure, and other heart-related complications. It affects approximately 33.5 million people globally.

What Causes Atrial Fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation is caused by changes in the physiology of the cells and electrical conduction within the atria. However, the pathomechanisms of these changes vary and may include overstretching of the cardiac tissue, inflammation and scarring, deposition, ischemia, changes in electrolyte balance, and increased sympathetic stimulation. 

There are also several risk factors for the development of atrial fibrillation:

  • Hypertension
  • Chronic heart disease
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Myocardial infarction and coronary artery disease
  • Aging
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Genetics
  • Surgery
  • Acute alcohol abuse
  • Drug use
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Obesity


Signs and Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation

  • Palpitations
  • Lightheadedness or syncope
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased exercise tolerance
  • Blood clots and end-organ ischemic events

Source: Sagris, M., Vardas, E., Theofilis, P., Antonopoulos, A. S., Oikonomou, E., & Tousoulis, D. (2021). Atrial Fibrillation: Pathogenesis, Predisposing Factors, and Genetics. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 23(1), 6.