What is atrial fibrillation?

This functional anomaly tends to occur often in the elderly and it originates from ectopic electrical pulses coming from the myocardial muscle cells located at the pulmonary vein-left atrial junction. An electrical disorder that has a negative effect on the left atrium, preventing it from working effectively: indeed, its “fragmentary” contraction is not valid from the haemodynamic perspective, i.e. on the aspect that directly concerns blood flow. 

How many types of atrial fibrillation do we know about?

Arrhythmia can be classified as
  • paroxysmal: resolves spontaneously within a few days and does not require drugs
  • persistent: when it requires external specialist intervention through targeted therapy
  •  permanent

Why is it important to treat it?

Because it can give rise to blood clots (thromboses) which, once in circulation, risk reaching the brain and causing brain ischaemia or stroke. Because cardiovascular mortality is greater in those with atrial fibrillation compared to those who are healthy and because quality of life is very affected by it. Furthermore, persistent atrial fibrillation alters the geometry of the left atrium to the point that the arrhythmia tends not to disappear but to self-perpetuate.
Finally, recent studies have shown how atrial fibrillation increases the risk of heart failure by 500% and how arrhythmia affects - still in high percentage - other noncardiac pathologies, beginning from chronic kidney failure (+60%) and peripheral vasculopathy (+30%).