Atrial Fibrillation Essay

1295 words - 5 pages

Cardiac dysrhythmias come in different degrees of severity. There are heart conditions that you are able to live with and manage on a daily basis and those that require immediate attention. Atrial Fibrillation is one of the more frequently seen types of dysrhythmias (NIH, 2011). The best way to diagnosis a heart condition is by reading a cardiac strip (Ignatavicius &Workman, 2013). Cardiac strips play an chief part in the nursing world allowing the nurse and other trained medical professionals to interpret what the heart is doing. In a normal strip, one can clearly identify a P wave before every QRS complex, which is then followed by a T wave; in Atrial Fibrillation, the Sinoatrial node fires irregularly causing there to be no clear P wave and an irregular QRS complex (Ignatavicius & Workman, 2013). Basically, it means that the atria, the upper chambers of the heart, are contracting too quickly and no clear P wave is identified because of this ‘fibrillation’ (Ignatavicius & Workman, 2013).

Clinical Manifestations and Pathophysiology
A normal heart rhythm begins at the sinoatrial node and follows the hearts conduction pathway without any problems. Typically the sinoatrial node fires between 60-100 times per minute (Ignatavicius & Workman, 2013). When a person has Atrial Fibrillation, the sinoatrial node releases multiple quick impulses at a rate of 350 -600 times per minute. When this happens, the ventricles respond by beating around 120- 200 beats per minute, making it tough to identify an accurate heart rate. This arrhythmia can be the result of various things. During a normal heart beat, the electrical impulse begins at the sinoatrial node and travels down the conduction pathway until the ventricles contract. Once that happens, the SA node fires again and the process keeps on cycling (Ignatavicius & Workman, 2013). During this rapid impulse the atria contract too fast which causes blood in the upper chambers known as the atria to pool; this means that the ventricles do not get the full supply of blood for that contraction. If this were to happen over a long period of time it can lead to an overall decreased cardiac output. Aside from the decreased cardiac output, a potential for blood clots is now present since there is pooling in the atria chambers (Ignatavicius & Workman, 2013). Stress, surgery, lung disease, and hypertension, are just a few concerns that can lead to atrial fibrillation (Cleveland Clinic, 2014) Atrial Fibrillation is divided into three categories: Paroxysmal, which is where heart beat becomes irregular all of a sudden and then corrects itself quickly; Persistent, where the irregular heart rate occurs for more than a week, and either clears up on its own or with treatment; and Permanent, which is where a normal heart rhythm cannot be reestablished with treatment (Cleveland Clinic, 2014). Symptoms of atrial fibrillation can vary depending on the person, and the severity of the dysrhythmia. Because decreased cardiac output...

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