Atrial fibrillation (AF)

AF is a type of heart rhythm disorder that occurs when the electrical signals that control the heartbeat become erratic. In a normal heart rhythm, the electrical signals start in the sinoatrial node (SA node) located in the right atrium and travels through the atria and ventricles, causing them to contract in a coordinated manner. In AF, the electrical signals become disorganized and cause the atria to quiver or fibrillate, which can lead to an irregular and often rapid heartbeat.

AF is a common heart condition, affecting millions of people worldwide. It is associated with a higher risk of stroke, heart failure, and other heart-related complications, especially if left untreated. The symptoms of AF may vary from person to person and can include palpitations, chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, and dizziness. In some cases, AF may be asymptomatic, which means that the person may not experience any symptoms at all.

Atrial fibrillation ablation is a procedure that is performed to restore a normal heart rhythm in people with AF who are symptomatic and who do not respond well to medications or other treatments. During the procedure, a small tube called a catheter is inserted through the femoral vein in the groin and threaded up to the heart. The catheter is used to deliver radio frequency to specific areas of the heart to create lesion scars, which can disrupt the abnormal electrical signals that cause AF.

 Catheter ablation of AF targets the pulmonary veins, which are the main sources of the abnormal electrical signals that cause AF. The aim of pulmonary vein ablation is to create lesions (small scars) around the pulmonary veins, which act as an electrical insulator and can prevent the abnormal signals transmitting from the PVinto the atria and causing fibrillation.

Atrial fibrillation ablation is usually performed under general anaesthesia, and patients usually need to stay in the hospital overnight after the procedure. The success rate of AF ablation varies depending on several factors, such as the duration and severity of the AF, the underlying heart condition, and the experience of the healthcare team performing the procedure. In some cases, multiple procedures may be needed to achieve a normal heart rhythm.

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