The term “heart failure” can sound violent and frightening. It is better to think of it as: “My heart is not working as well as it should, and needs treatment to support the function”. When experiencing heart failure, the pumping power of the heart can not meet the needs of the body. This can cause you to start accumulating fluid in your legs and lungs, so that your ankles and lower legs become thick and you may have difficulty breathing.
< Normal heart | Enlarged heart >
1) Right heart chamber | 2) Left heart chamber | 3) Septum between heart chambers |
4) Enlarged heart chamber
Can atrial fibrillation cause heart failure?
Atrial fibrillation can cause heart failure and conversely, heart failure can also lead to atrial fibrillation. It can be difficult to determine what is the chicken or the egg. It can also be a mixture of both primary heart failure and an exacerbation of this due to atrial fibrillation. Heart failure requires special supportive treatment with medication and sometimes with a special type of pacemaker. And one can prevent the development of heart failure by treating atrial fibrillation.
When one develops Heart Failure due to atrial fibrillation, it is most often because the heart rate (“pulse”) is disproportionately high. The heart chambers do not like to have too high a pulse for too long, and gradually they can therefore start to grow and become slack, at this point heart failure has been developed. Fortunately, these changes can often return to normal, so that heart function becomes normal if you get better control of your heart rate. Either by limiting the fast pulse during atrial fibrillation or by stopping atrial fibrillation and re-establishing the normal heart rhythm – “Sinus rhythm”.
There are several studies that have shown that if you have both heart failure and atrial fibrillation, you can achieve a significant improvement in quality of life and physical capacity by ablation treatment for atrial fibrillation. Improved survival after ablation for atrial fibrillation has also been seen in people with heart failure and concomitant atrial fibrillation.