Atrial Fibrillation
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Atrial fibrillation is an abnormal heart rate in which the time between heart beats is irregularly irregular. Instead of the steady rhythm of a clock, atrial fibrillation is much more chaotic and at least when it first starts is usually faster than the normal average heart rate of 60 to 90  beats per minute.

This rhythm is quite common especially in elderly people. In the past it was common to use medications such as digoxin to slow and control the heart rate in the more normal range and then consider this to be a relatively benign rhythm. There is an increased occurrence of embolic stroke in new onset of atrial fibrillation and a higher rate overall of embolic stroke in people with long standing atrial fibrillation. The present approach is to try to detect the change from normal sinus rhythm to atrial fibrillation as soon as possible. On first detection efforts are made to return the heart to regular sinus rhythm by using drugs, by  treating coincident problems that cause the fibrillation, and by electro-conversion protocols. If these efforts fail, the patient is usually put on some form of lifelong anticoagulation therapy.

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