Condition of the heart Essay

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Condition of the heart.

Heart disease continues to be one of the leading causes of death in the United States, and because of this, a variety of conditions tend to occur over time. One of these conditions is atrial fibrillation that, according to the American heart association, “an estimated two million Americans have an irregular heartbeat” (MNN, 2005). It can be seen at times in apparently healthy people, but generally happens in persons older than 65 years of age, and if they are younger than 65 years old, they may suffer conditions such as hypertension, or coronary heart disease.

Atrial fibrillation is “a common heart rhythm problem” (CNN,2005). People with this condition may have symptoms such as palpitations, which is usually the “classic symptom”. Some others may complain of shortness of breath, fatigue, dypnea, chest discomfort and lightheadedness (Yee and Rozewicz, 2003). A fib is not commonly life threatening; however, it could lead to complication if not treated properly.

Atrial fibrillation may be sporadic or chronic. In sporadic atrial fibrillation, a person may have symptom that comes and goes, don’t last long, and stopped by themselves. However, with chronic A Fib, it lasts until is treated. Some people may have this condition and do not even know it until they go to the doctor for a physical exam.

The causes of atrial fibrillation may be difficult to tell. However, in cases such as cardiac surgery, hyperthyroidism, long standing- hypertension, ischemic heart disease, rheumatic heart disease, tachy-brady syndrome, holiday heart syndrome or moderate to heavy intake of alcohol, and other such as electrolytes imbalance, can increase the risk of atrial fibrillation (Hiller, 1999). An according to the American Heart Association, 15% of strokes occur in people with atrial fibrillation. As a result treating, A Fib is an important way to prevent stroke. (MSNBC, 2005)
Normally, in order to pump blood, the heart muscles must contract and relax in a coordinated rhythm; these are controlled by electrical signals that travel through the heart muscle. The heart consists of four chambers, two upper chambers (atria) and two lower chambers (ventricles). The upper right chamber has a group of cells called the sinus node, the hearts natural pacemaker. The node produces impulses that initiate each heartbeat. During normal rhythm, the impulse goes first to the atria, and then passes to the connecting pathway, which is located between the upper and lower chambers of the heart and is known as atrioventricular node. When the signal passes through the atria, contraction occurs and blood from the atria goes into the ventricles. A split second later, as the signal passes through the AV node to the ventricles, the ventricles contract, pumping blood out of the body. Each contraction is a heartbeat. In atrial fibrillation, the upper chamber of the heart (atria) experiences chaotic electrical signals. As a result, the atrium quivers. The AV node is overloaded with electrical impulse trying to go through the ventricles; the ventricles also beat rapidly; however not as fast as the atria. This happens because the AV node is like a “high way on a ramp, only so many cars can get on at the time” (CNN, 2005). The result is an “irregularly irregular” and fast heart rhythm. (Yee , 2003).

Strategies in managing atrial fibrillation have, at least three components, therapeutic anticoagulation, restoration, maintenance of sinus rhythm, and control of ventricular heart rate. These strategies may not work with everyone. It is necessary to individualized therapy according to the underlying disease process, the age of a person, the state of ventricular function, and the ability of the person to be compliant to treatment modalities.

It is appropriate to use rate-control drugs and anticoagulation therapy; however, if the symptoms continue an attempt of rhythm-management therapy with continuation of anticoagulation may be instituted. If the rhythm- control does not work well, rate- control treatment may be resumed. (Kellen, 2004)
The strategies mentioned above for managing atrial fibrillation may not always work; however there are alternative medicine and therapy that can be implemented in order to enhance the heart, which in time, would also help to alleviate symptoms associated with of atrial fibrillation. These alternative therapy and medicine are stress reduction techniques such as yoga, meditation, or biofeedback. These techniques can help reduce emotional stress and anxiety by decreasing the heart rate and reducing symptoms (CNN, 2005). Also relaxation techniques that concentrate in deep breathing and concentration, such as yoga and meditation, not only reduce the heart rate and symptoms, but it may help improve the ability to cope with stressful events before symptoms begin and is “good for the heart”(MSNBC,2005)
Biofeedback is another form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) .It is a treatment technique in which people trained to improve their health by using signals from their own bodies. The main goal of this therapy is to teach an individual how alter critical bodily function such as brain activity, blood pressure, muscle tension, heart rate and other bodily function. This type of therapy uses biofeedback by “a variety of monitoring procedures and equipment. A biofeedback specialist tries to teach how to control certain involuntary body responses such as the ones mentioned above”. (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2005)
Some examples of health professionals that use biofeedback mechanism in their practice are physical therapists, they use biofeedback to help stroke victims regain movement in paralyzed muscles. Psychologists use it to help tense and anxious clients learn to relax. Specialists in many different fields use biofeedback to help their patients cope with pain and relive anxiety associated with every day life.

In brief, atrial fibrillation is a common condition and is well tolerated by most people who have it. Treatment however can be complicated and frustrated at times. In addition, it can be associated with strokes and other complications, therefore deserves careful evaluation.

If a person feels chest palpitations, shortness of breath, fatigue,dypnea, chest discomfort and lightheadedness he or she may need to go to a medical doctor, because most illness when treated in its early stage, tend to have better outcome.

1) Mayo clinic, trial fibrillation; 2005.
2) Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2005
3) MSNBC Interactive, Atrial fibrillation; 2005.
4) Cathy A. Yee, RN, MSN, and Barbara Rozewicz, RN, MSNC Abstract: Review a management plan for atrial fibrillation, using cardiology association guidelines
and standards.Nurs Manage 2003:34(9):21-28
5) Joyce C. Kellen, Implications for Nursing Care of Patients with Atrial Fibrillation:
The Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing; Mar/Apr 2004; 19, 2; ProQuest Nursing Journals
pg. 128

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