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  • Ventricular fibrillation


    Ventricular fibrillation (V-fib or VF) is when the heart quivers instead of pumping due to disorganized electrical activity in the ventricles. It is a type of cardiac arrhythmia. Ventricular fibrillation results in cardiac arrest with loss of consciousness and no pulse. This is followed by death in the absence of treatment. Ventricular fibrillation is found initially in about 10% of people in cardiac arrest. Ventricular fibrillation can occur due to coronary heart disease, valvular heart disease, cardiomyopathy, Brugada syndrome, long QT syndrome, electric shock, or intracranial hemorrhage. Diagnosis is by an electrocardiogram (ECG) showing irregular unformed QRS complexes without any clear P waves. An important differential diagnosis is torsades de pointes. Treatment is with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation. Biphasic defibrillation may be better than monophasic. The medication epinephrine or amiodarone may be given if initial treatments are not effective. Rates of survival among those who are out of hospital when the arrhythmia is detected is about 17% while in hospital it is about 46%.

  • Atrial fibrillation


    Atrial fibrillation (AF or A-fib) is an abnormal heart rhythm characterized by rapid and irregular beating of the atria. Often it starts as brief periods of abnormal beating which become longer and possibly constant over time. Often episodes have no symptoms. Occasionally there may be heart palpitations, fainting, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, or chest pain. The disease is associated with an increased risk of heart failure, dementia, and stroke. It is a type of supraventricular tachycardia. High blood pressure and valvular heart disease are the most common alterable risk factors for AF. Other heart-related risk factors include heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy, and congenital heart disease. In the developing world valvular heart disease often occurs as a result of rheumatic fever. Lung-related risk factors include COPD, obesity, and sleep apnea. Other factors include excess alcohol intake, tobacco smoking, diabetes mellitus, and thyrotoxicosis. However, half of cases are not associated with any of these risks. A diagnosis is made by feeling the pulse and may be confirmed using an electrocardiogram (ECG). A typical ECG in AF shows no P waves and an irregular ventricular rate. AF is often treated with medications to slow the heart rate to a near normal range (known as rate control) or to convert the rhythm to normal sinus rhythm (known as rhythm control). Electrical cardioversion can also be used to convert AF to a normal sinus rhythm and is often used emergently if the person is unstable. Ablation may prevent recurrence in some people. For those at low risk of stroke, no specific treatment is typically required, though aspirin or an anti-clotting medication may occasionally be considered. For those at more than low risk, an anti-clotting medication is typically recommended. Anti-clotting medications include warfarin and direct oral anticoagulants. Most people are at higher risk of stroke. While these medications reduce stroke risk, they increase rates of major bleeding. Atrial fibrillation is the most common serious abnormal heart rhythm. In Europe and North America, , it affects about 2 to 3% of the population. This is an increase from 0.4 to 1% of the population around 2005. In the developing world, about 0.6% of males and 0.4% of females are affected. The percentage of people with AF increases with age with 0.1% under 50 years old, 4% between 60 and 70 years old, and 14% over 80 years old being affected. A-fib and atrial flutter resulted in 193,300 deaths in 2015, up from 29,000 in 1990. The first known report of an irregular pulse was by Jean-Baptiste de Sénac in 1749. This was first documented by ECG in 1909 by Thomas Lewis.

  • Fibrillation


    Fibrillation is the rapid, irregular, and unsynchronized contraction of muscle fibers. An important occurrence is with regard to the heart.

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