The Heart When In Atrial Fibrillation

Dr. Paul Dorian, MD, CM, MSc., Cardiologist, discusses what happens to the heart when in atrial fibrillation.

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Dr. Paul Dorian, MD, CM, MSc., Cardiologist, discusses what happens to the heart when in atrial fibrillation.
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Video transcript

Featuring Dr. Paul Dorian, MD, CM, MSc., Cardiologist

Duration: 1 minute, 43 seconds

Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm disturbance. Patients are told if they have atrial fibrillation either because they have a pulse that’s irregular that their family doctor discovers, or they have an ECG, known as an electrocardiogram, which records this heart rhythm abnormality. It’s something that patients often read about or hear about because it’s a very common heart rhythm problem.

Patients ask me “what is atrial fibrillation”? Atrial fibrillation is an electrical problem of the heart. The normal heart works like this: the top chambers are the atria and the bottom chambers are the ventricles.

Normally the heart sequence looks a little bit like this. When the atrium is fibrillating - that’s the top chamber - it wiggles inside the body, and it doesn’t pump blood effectively. The atria are beating at about 400 or 500 times a minute.

Patients don’t feel that. What they feel is the bottom chamber, which is beating rapidly and irregularly as a consequence of the top chamber beating extremely rapidly and irregularly. And the reason that most – not all – most patients with atrial fibrillation are aware of it, is the bottom chamber is beating faster than normal, and irregularly.

If you have atrial fibrillation and you don’t feel well, or you need more information, or you’re not completely satisfied with your treatment, speak to your family doctor, if needed, ask to be sent to a cardiologist who has expertise in atrial fibrillation and get yourself as well informed as possible about this condition so that you better understand your own body, and you can deal with the symptoms more effectively.

Presenter: Dr. Paul Dorian, Cardiologist, Toronto, ON

Local Practitioners: Cardiologist

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.