What are the Effects of Afib on the Body?

Contributed by Healthline

afib.medical

Circulatory System

When the heart’s electrical system is out of whack, the heart chambers lose their rhythm. A common symptom of afib is the sensation that your heart is flopping around inside your chest, or simply beating irregularly (palpitations). You may become hyper-aware of your own heartbeat.

Over time, afib can cause the heart to weaken and malfunction. The heart’s ineffective contractions cause blood to pool in the atria. This can increase the risk of clotting. As a result, you may experience shortness of breath, low blood pressure, and chest pain. During an episode of afib, your pulse may feel like its racing, beating too slowly, or beating irregularly.

Heart failure occurs when the heart loses its ability to circulate enough blood throughout the body.

Central Nervous System

Afib increases the risk of stroke. When the heart fails to contract properly, blood tends to pool in the atria. This increases the risk of forming a clot. When the heart pumps, the clot can travel to the brain, where it blocks the blood supply and causes an embolic stroke.

Early warning signs of stroke include severe headache and slurred speech. If you have afib, your risk of stroke increases as you age. Other additional risk factors for stroke include diabetes, high blood pressure, or history of other heart problems or previous stroke. Blood thinners and other medications can lower that risk.

Respiratory System

The lungs require a steady supply of blood in order to function properly. Irregular pumping action of the heart can also cause fluid to back up in the lungs. Symptoms include shortness of breath, difficulty performing physical activities, and fatigue. General Health

Some people with afib may have a build-up of fluid in the legs, ankles, and feet. Other symptoms include weight gain, lightheadedness, and a general sense of malaise. Some patients report irritability and exertion during previously routine activities.

– See more at: http://www.healthline.com/health/atrial-fibrillation/effects-on-body#sthash.vLW1N9Hp.dpuf