Atrial fibrillation is a condition in which the upper chambers of the heart flutter due to an irregular electrical stimulus, leading to frantic and chaotic heartbeats. Arrhythmia or atrial fibrillation can result in shortness of breath, fatigue and many other symptoms that can negatively affect senior health. Statistics show that more than 2.7 million people in the country experience atrial fibrillation.
In the opinion of senior health experts, atrial fibrillation on its own is not a life-threatening condition, but it is serious and may sometimes need emergency treatment. One of the important concerns is the chance of developing blood clots in the atria. The blood clot might circulate through the bloodstream of the person and can block blood flow to vital organs and may even result in a stroke. If your senior loved one has atrial fibrillation, you need to be aware of the symptoms and should consult a doctor to help avoid complications.
Senior health experts in our assisted living facility share some of the important points that you need to know about atrial fibrillation, including the steps that you need to take if the condition is affecting your senior loved one at night.
Underlying health issues or environmental factors can trigger atrial fibrillation. Fatigue, medications, anxiety, alcohol, caffeine, fluctuations in hormones, recent surgery, physical exertion and dehydration can be some of the common triggers of atrial fibrillation. When a specific trigger is the cause of irregular heartbeats, you can avoid the symptoms by preventing the habits or activities that cause them. Medical professionals also make use of a variety of techniques to rest the natural rhythm of the heart and monitor a situation closely to identify the trigger of atrial fibrillation.
Many seniors suffering from atrial fibrillation experience symptoms at night. Sometimes, this can be due to pacemaker activity triggering irregular heartbeats when the heart rate slows down during sleep. Health experts say that people suffering from sleep apnea are more prone to irregular heartbeat and heart disruptions. If your senior loved one experiences an irregular heartbeat together with sleep apnea or other sleep problems, it should be brought up with a doctor.
Though the link between atrial fibrillation and sleep apnea is not completely understood, it is found that untreated sleep apnea can result in an increased risk of atrial fibrillation complications. A theory as to why this happens is that the changes in breathing due to sleep apnea can lead to an increase in blood pressure, resulting in greater stress on the heart.