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Atrial fibrillation in Young Individuals

Atrial fibrillation (AF) although being the most common heart ailment, is still considered as a disease of older individuals. When a young adult presents in a clinic with complaints of heart arrhythmia or syncope or similar symptoms, clinicians must think of AF as a differential diagnosis.  Young adults are often more symptomatic during AF episodes and they also respond very well to AF ablation therapy. Moreover, young individuals lead a highly active lifestyle. After ruling out reversible causes, medications should be chosen with caution. Following are the common etiological factors which are mostly seen to be associated with young AF patients.

Atrial fibrillation in Youth

Stress is a leading cause for Atrial Fibrillation:

Stress (either physical or psychological) both can be a triggering factor for AF. Excess physical stress can also cause irregular electrical beats of the heart, especially when an individual pushes his/her body to its limits. For instance, endurance athletes such as long distance marathon runners are more prone to develop AF. The various mechanisms blamed for AF in athletes are autonomic activation, electrolyte abnormalities and possibly, gastroesophageal reflux. When physical stress has been pointed out as the main etiological factor, coming down on exertion level definitely helps. Anxiety induced by psychological stress (secondary to lifestyle, job profile, personal/professional issues etc.) has a significant role for AF initiation and maintenance.

Caffeine, Alcohol, or Illicit Drug Use:

AF is also a disease which is determined by our hobby and habits which include drinking or even heavy strenuous exercise, etc. Drinking every day, 2-3 cups of tea/coffee each day may have beneficial effects on your body. However, when higher amounts of stimulants are ingested it certainly predisposes to AF.

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea

Sleep apnoea is not only the top risk factor for Hypertension, Diabetes but also for AF. Luckily it can be easily detected by confirming it with a sleep study and usage of continuous positive airway therapy.

Infections

Infections around the heart membrane (pericarditis) can set the stage for AF, as can certain bacterial infections (notably, the H. pylori organism that causes stomach ulcers). Studies have found that C-reactive protein — an important marker of systemic inflammation that comes with infections — is present in AFib patients.

Quality of food intake

Elements as Magnesium, Potassium, and Calcium (in the correct portions) are very important not only for our body but also for the heart. Current generation junk food is mostly deficient in nutritious components and is consumed with sweetened carbonated drinks and or alcohol which impacts the bones and muscles in a negative way. Diet rich in Omega 3 fatty acids may prevent AF remodeling.

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