Heart Arrhythmia Diseases

Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a heart condition in which the heart’s two small upper chambers flutter instead of beat properly. (One chamber is known as an atrium; both together are known as the atria.) These chambers receive blood from the veins in the body.

Normally, the blood is pumped out of the atria into other heart chambers called ventricles. The ventricles then pump the blood, which now contains oxygen, to the rest of the body. Between the two sets of chambers (atria and ventricles) are valves that open and close and direct the flow of blood between the chambers.

Problems can arise when abnormal heart rhythms upset the normal exchange of blood between the chambers, and the blood is not completely pumped out of the atria. The blood left in the atria can pool and form a clot. This blood clot can leave the heart, travel to the brain, and cause a stroke.

Atrial fibrillation is the most common form of arrhythmia. It affects more than 2 million people each year. The chances of developing atrial fibrillation increase with age.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), or Sudden Cardiac Death, is an arrhythmia of the heart and occurs when the electrical signal that controls the pumping of the heart misfires. The result is ventricular fibrillation, where the lower chambers of the heart begin to quiver and cannot pump blood to the brain.

Unfortunately, SCA is a leading cause of death in the United States that kills about 325,000 Americans every year. It is responsible for half of all heart disease deaths and more deaths than AIDS, breast cancer and lung cancer combined.