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Fibrillation Pronunciation: fi-brə-ˈlā-shən

Definition: Fibrillation is a condition characterized by rapid and irregular heart contractions, which can affect the atria or the ventricles of the heart. The two most common types are atrial fibrillation and ventricular fibrillation. In atrial fibrillation, the upper chambers of the heart beat irregularly, leading to inefficient blood flow. In ventricular fibrillation, the lower chambers of the heart beat rapidly and erratically, preventing the heart from pumping blood to the body. Ventricular fibrillation is a medical emergency and can lead to cardiac arrest if not treated immediately.

Frequently Asked Questions About Fibrillation

What causes fibrillation?

Fibrillation can be caused by numerous factors, including heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure, substance abuse, certain medications, and genetics. It can also occur in a healthy heart under extreme stress or trauma.

What are the symptoms of fibrillation?

Symptoms can vary significantly depending on the type of fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation symptoms may include heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and fatigue, while ventricular fibrillation often causes loss of consciousness or sudden cardiac arrest.

How is fibrillation treated?

The treatment for fibrillation depends on its type and severity. Atrial fibrillation might be managed with medications, electrical cardioversion, or surgical procedures. Ventricular fibrillation is a medical emergency requiring immediate treatment with a defibrillator to restore normal heart rhythm. In the long term, implantable devices or medications may be used to manage the condition.

Can fibrillation lead to cardiac arrest?

Yes, ventricular fibrillation is a common cause of cardiac arrest. It causes the heart to quiver instead of pumping blood, leading to a rapid loss of consciousness and, without immediate treatment, death. Atrial fibrillation, while not typically life-threatening in the immediate term, can lead to serious complications, such as stroke and heart failure, over time.