Atrial Fibrillation is a heart condition where your heartbeat is irregular, and sometimes too fast.
You may be very aware of symptoms, such as heart palpitations, tiredness or shortness of breath, or you may be largely unaware that there is anything wrong.
Atrial fibrillation is common, with an estimated 1.7% of the UK population affected. You are more likely to develop the condition if you are older – as many as 12% of people over 80 may have atrial fibrillation.
The condition is not normally life threatening, but you do need to see a doctor, who can organise the appropriate tests, and subsequent treatment.
Diagnosis of Atrial Fibrillation
Our consultants are specialists in the field of electrophysiology (the medical field that relates to electrical activity in the heart). They are experts in diagnosing and treating Atrial Fibrillation.
To diagnose the condition, they provide a range of tests:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG) tests - where your heart's rhythm is recorded on a moving strip of paper or a line on a computer screen
- Echocardiography - where ultrasound is used to investigate the action of the heart
- Holter monitoring - this involves wearing a battery-operated device for a period of time as you go about your day-to-day activities, measuring the activity of your heart.
What does treatment for Atrial Fibrillation involve?
Treatment is tailored to your own particular needs by your specialist, but may include the following:
- Medication to help control your heart rate
- Cardioversion; where your heart is given a controlled electric shock, with the aim of getting its rhythm back to normal
- A procedure called catheter ablation, where the abnormal area of your heart is carefully destroyed under general anaesthetic
Implantation of a pacemaker