AustinPUG Health

AustinPUG Health

A-Fib Triggers

A-Fib, short for atrial fibrillation, is a rapid and irregular heart rate that commonly causes poor blood flow to the body. During atrial fibrillation, the heart’s two upper chambers, known as the atria, beat irregularly and out of sync with the two lower chambers, known as the ventricles. Atrial fibrillation (A-fib) symptoms include weakness, heart palpitations and shortness of breath.

atrial fibrillation A Fib Triggers

Atrial fibrillation episodes can come and go (called paroxysmal), or you may have a chronic condition where your rhythms are always abnormal, although A-fib is usually not a life-threatening condition by itself. It is, however, a serious medical condition that sometimes requires emergency treatment and can definitely lead to complications without proper medication and/or other interventions to alter the heart’s electrical system.


Within your right atrium is a group of cells called the sinus node, your heart’s natural pacemaker. The sinus node produces the impulse –which travels through the atria, atrioventricular node (AV node) and the ventricles — all of which produces a complete heartbeat.

In atrial fibrillation, your atria chambers experience chaotic electrical signals. As a result, they quiver. The AV node, the electrical connection between the atria and the ventricles, is overloaded with impulses trying to get through to the ventricles. The ventricles also beat rapidly, but not as rapidly as the atria. The result is a fast and irregular heart rhythm, ranging from 100 to 175 beats a minute, where the normal range should be between 60 to 100.

Abnormalities, defects or damage to the heart is the most common cause of atrial fibrillation. Other possible causes of A-fib include: heart attacks, an overactive thyroid gland, a metabolic imbalance, high blood pressure, lung disease, sick sinus node syndrome, viral infections, sleep apnea or sickness like pneumonia. Even medications, caffeine, tobacco or alcohol can bring about A-fib.

Atrial flutter

Atrial flutter is similar to atrial fibrillation, but the rhythm in your atria is more organized and less chaotic than the abnormal patterns common with atrial fibrillation. Sometimes you may have atrial flutter that develops into atrial fibrillation and vice versa. The symptoms, causes and risk factors of atrial flutter are similar to those of atrial fibrillation, and is usually not life-threatening when it’s treated.

Symptoms & Complication

Some with A-fib don’t even know they have the condition because sometimes there are no symptoms. Of course, others will have very obvious conditions like weakness, confusion, chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations, racing heart, decreased blood pressure and lightheadedness. If symptoms get worse, A-fib can lead to serious conditions like stroke and heart attack, so it is vital to see a doctor if you start to experience any of these symptoms. Your physicianshould be able to tell you if your symptoms are caused by atrial fibrillation or another heart condition.

Triggers and Risk Factors

There are a number of triggers that are prominent in A-fib. These include the following:

  • Family history.
  • Age. The older you are, the greater your risk of developing atrial fibrillation.
  • Current heart disease or past heart surgery
  • Thyroid problems
  • Drinking alcohol
  • High blood pressure


Prevention is key to atrial fibrillation, because it is a condition that can be very controllable. You may need to reduce or eliminate caffeinated and alcoholic beverages from your diet. It’s also important to be careful when taking over-the-counter medications, such as cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine or other stimulants. These can trigger A-fib as well. Additionally, some medication can also have dangerous interactions with antiarrhythmic medications.

Lifestyle changes that improve your blood pressure and heart health are perhaps the best remedies for A-fib. These include exercise, eating right (low-sodium), quitting smoking and avoid drinking more than one or two drinks of alcohol a day. Doing these things will significantly reduce your risk factors for atrial fibrillation.

About Author : David Novak is a international syndicated newspaper columnist, appearing in newspapers, magazines, radio and TV around the world. His byline has appeared in GQ, National Geographic, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, Reader’s Digest, USA Today, among others, and he has appeared on The Today Show, the CBS Morning Show and Paul Harvey Radio. David is a specialist at consumer technology, health and fitness, and he also owns a PR firm and a consulting company where he and his staff focus on these industries. He is a regular contributing editor for Healthline. For more information, visit
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