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Atrial fibrillation (AF) is an arrhythma (irregular heart beat) that may be episodic (paroxysmal) or chronic.

AF is associated with a 5 times increase in the risk of stroke.

Causes of AF

- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Cardiomyopathy

Isolated AF is atrial fibrillation of no known cause.

Acute AF may occur with infection, high alcohol consumption, surgery, electrocution, heart attack, pulmonary embolus, or hyperythyroidism.

Symptoms of AF

Atrial fibrillation often does not have symptoms (it is asymptomatic).

Symptoms can include:

- palpitations
- chest pain
- shortness of breath
- fatigue
- lightheadedness
- fainting

Treatment of AF

Treatment is aimed at treating the underlying cause.

First line drug treatment of symptomatic or chronic AF is with digoxin.

In chronic AF, anticoagulation (clot prevention) therapy with aspirin &/or warfarin may be required to reduce the risk of stroke.


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