An erratic pulse might be an indication of an abnormal heart rhythm such as atrial fibrillation. This is one of the most prevalent forms of arrhythmia and the main cause of stroke.
Essentially, the natural pacemaker of the heart transmits regular electrical impulses. Atrial fibrillation occurs if these impulses fire off from various places in the atria in an erratic manner. Individuals with atrial fibrillation have an erratic and oftentimes rapid pulse. You can easily check if one has atrial fibrillation by feeling the pulse.
What are the possible causes?
The causes include heart valve disease, high blood pressure, excess consumption of alcohol and thyrotoxicosis.
It is also linked with coronary heart disease. On the other hand, many individuals do not have any underlying cause. Oftentimes, the condition can be managed once the underlying condition is dealt with.
Indications of atrial fibrillation
- Shortness of breath
It is important to note that some individuals only have mild symptoms while others do not have any symptoms at all.
How is it detected?
Atrial fibrillation can be detected by sensing the pulse at the wrist. The pulse feels irregular and the beats vary in strength.
In some individuals, they are not aware that they have atrial fibrillation. It is only discovered if they have a pulse check or ECG. If the pulse is erratic or the individual is worried in any way about his/her pulse, set an appointment with a doctor.
What are the possible complications?
It is important to note that atrial fibrillation can also increase the risk for the formation of a blood clot within the heart chambers that can lead to a stroke. Remember that it increases the risk for stroke drastically.
Even though it can increase the risk for stroke, there are also other contributing factors such as the following:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Being overweight
- Physical inactivity
With proper treatment, the risk for stroke is drastically reduced. An anticoagulant or blood thinner is the usual choice in minimizing the risk for a stroke among those with atrial fibrillation.
More Information / Disclaimer
The information posted on this page on atrial fibrillation is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize circulatory emergencies including atrial fibrillation by taking a standard first aid course with Kelowna First Aid.