AFib (AF), Atrial fibrillation, Heart Diseases, Heart Health

AFib and Shortness of Breath | Understanding the Symptoms

AFib and Shortness of Breath

When our heart and lungs are in sync, the system works in harmony. But, when a serious health complication like Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) throws the body off balance, it can affect the lungs and make breathing incredibly difficult. 

In fact, AFib shortness of breath is such a common issue that almost everyone with the condition can experience it. Find out how AFib affects the respiratory system and the practical ways you can keep the problem under control. 

How Can AFib Leave You Breathless?

Our heart works hand-in-hand with the rest of the systems in the human body. That includes the respiratory system as well. When there is a heart complication, like AFib, it can start to impair breathing and cause a mild to severe lung discomfort.  

AFib is an abnormal heart condition that causes rapid beating and irregular heart motions, which accelerate the heart rate.

The condition can increase the odds of heart failure, stroke, or other debilitating cardiovascular conditions. Here is how AFib can impair breathing.

  • Loss of Atrial Contraction

When a person experiences an AFib episode, their body starts to lose the normal atrial contraction

Atrial contractions are what add pressure to the heart chambers and help with the healthy blood flow. When the organ doesn’t get the pressure it needs, it starts to quiver and squeeze. 

The AFib episode is responsible for that. That’s why the condition reduces the heart’s efficiency and makes you lose breath. As a result, it puts a lot of strain on the heart and makes inhaling and exhaling very difficult to achieve. 

  • Increased Fluid Retention

AFib can cause numerous problems for the heart, one of which is the increased pressure in the lungs.

When a patient has an AFib attack, the pressure in the lungs will cause excessive fluid retention

This problem can be diagnosed with an Echocardiogram. This device is designed to analyze the overall function of the heart and the pressure inside it. 

How to Recognize the Symptoms?

The symptoms of AFib shortness of breath vary from person to person. Regardless of what kind of impact they make, they can still be terrifying. 

It’s normal to feel agitated when the quivering in the heart muscles keeps the blood stuck in place and leaves you short of breath. That’s why you need to know how to recognize it. To recognize the symptoms of respiratory difficulties, you should look out for:

  • quickened heartbeat
  • palpitations
  • flutters in the chest

An easy and accurate way how to follow your heart condition is a personal, portable electrocardiogram device (ECG). These solutions within simple, fast, and effective measurements detect negative changes in your heart, including rate. Showing trustful results in your smart device anywhere anytime.

But, do have in mind that not every patient with AFib will experience changes in their breathing. But, if you do, it’s essential not to leave them unattended. 

Other Contributors to Shortness of Breath 

AFib is a condition with a complex nature. There are many triggers that can make the problem worse. But, when it comes to shortness of breath, there are two very important factors you should know about. They are anxiety and sleep apnea. Here is how these contributors can make breathing difficult. 

Anxiety and AFib

Some patients with AFib can experience a panic attack and the discomfort that comes with it. Anxiety is known for creating muscle tension, increased heartbeat, and lightheadedness. These are all major triggers for an episode. 

The panic, however, can also affect breathing.

The psychological distress will force people to breathe faster, which means they will exhale more than they inhale.

As a result, they start to lack oxygen. This is what we call hyperventilation. 

The key to solving the problem is to breathe slowly.

You need to restore balance to your exhalations and inhalations. You can breathe in and out of a paper bag or hold your breath for a couple of seconds. These are all tactics that can help the body calm down. 

Sleep Apnea and AFib

According to the National Institutes of Health, sleep apnea can increase your odds of developing AFib by 2 to 4 times. 

Whether you are experiencing obstructive or central sleep apnea, the nervous system will start to feel the strain and increase the risk of developing several medical conditions. But, for patients already dealing with AFib, it can be an even bigger problem. 

If people fail to treat the issue, it can result in cognitive impairments and weaken the heart. With an already weakened cardiovascular system, this can be a big problem. 

To solve it, try to implement healthier lifestyle choices and consult with your doctor for other courses of action. 

When to Ask for Help?

Many patients with AFib can manage breathing discomfort at home with calm breathing and a healthy lifestyle.

If your chest feels heavy or you start to feel pain when taking full breaths, call an ambulance immediately.

This could be a clear indicator of a more serious heart complication. 

Final Thoughts

Experiencing shortness of breath with AFib is not uncommon. That’s why it’s important to understand it and recognize it so you can get proper on-time treatment. The information listed here can help you get in control of your health condition and live a healthy, stress-free life.   

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