What is Atrial Fibrillation?
Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is the most common heart rhythm disturbance encountered by doctors. NHS 2011 figures suggest AF affects in excess of one million people across the UK, although this is considered to be an under estimation due to delayed detection and diagnosis.
It can affect adults of any age, but it is more common as people get older. In the over 65 year old age group, it affects about 10% of people. Atrial fibrillation is not a life-threatening heart rhythm problem, but it can be troublesome and often requires treatment.
Atrial fibrillation or AF occurs when chaotic electrical activity develops in the upper chambers or atria, and completely takes over from the sinus node. As a result, the atria no longer beat in an organised way, and pump less efficiently. The AV node will stop some of these very rapid impulses from travelling to the ventricles, but the ventricles will still beat irregularly and possibly rapidly.