5 reasons for atrial and irregular heartbeats

Atrial fibrillation is the most common type of irregular heartbeat that affects almost 3 million people in the United States, but often goes unnoticed by patients. Symptoms of atrial fibrillation include a rapid pulse and heartbeat, shortness of breath, palpitations, dizziness, and fatigue, but they are so common – sometimes it’s hard for us to determine what’s causing them.
Here are some few factors about what may possibly cause this condition.

1. The older you get, the higher is atrial fibrillation risk

As the nation of baby boom era is getting older, the number of new atrial fibrillation cases grows every year by 160,000. Elder men are more likely to have this condition than elder women. Even though atrial fibrillation increases with age, half the people who have it are younger than 75.

2. Heart disease can be a risk factor for atrial fibrillation

About 20% of atrial fibrillation is caused by heart disease. The risk factors include coronary artery disease, diseases that affect your heart’s valves and heart defects that you are born with.

3. High blood pressure can also contribute to this condition

Hypertension is one of the most important risk factors, because it’s such a common problem for U.S. residents (about 1/3 of U.S. citizens have high blood pressure). High blood pressure increases the workload of your heart, which may trigger atrial fibrillation symptoms.

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4. Drinking alcohol and caffeine may trigger atrial fibrillation symptoms

Alcohol is a rare cause of atrial fibrillation by itself, but it can trigger other atrial fibrillation symptoms. Heavy alcoholism and binge drinking has been shown to cause atrial fibrillation. “Holiday heart” is a condition in which a person experiences an episode of atrial fibrillation after drinking through a holiday weekend. Also, recent studies show that drinking abusers have a 50% higher risk for atrial fibrillation than those who don’t drink.

5. Family history and gene mutations can increase the risk

About 30 percent of people with atrial fibrillation have a family history of the condition. Changes, or mutations, in some genes may disrupt the flow of chemicals that help regulate heart rhythm.

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