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What Is Persistent Atrial Fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a type of heart condition characterized by an irregular and often fast heart rate. There are three types of the disorder, including paroxysmal AFib (symptoms come and go), persistent AFib (symptoms last longer than a week, the heart becomes unable to control and regulate its rate), and permanent AFib (symptoms last for over a year, a chronic condition despite treatment).

Atrial fibrillation itself is a progressive disease meaning that a person would first develop paroxysmal AFib, which if left untreated will progress to persistent AFib, and eventually permanent AFib. Luckily, persistent atrial fibrillation is a treatable condition and with the right treatment, you can prevent developing the permanent type of the heart disorder.

That said, let’s have a closer look at everything you need to know about persistent atrial fibrillation. Continue reading to find out more.

Symptoms

First, you have to learn about the symptoms so that you are able to identify the need for professional medical help and treatment. In short, atrial fibrillation symptoms include:

  • Racing heart rate
  • Heart palpitations
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath

In case you have any of these symptoms daily, for seven days straight, you may be diagnosed with persistent AFib. However, understand that atrial fibrillation could also develop without any symptoms, i.e., it could be asymptomatic.

Risk Factors

Furthermore, we have to discuss the common risk factors for persistent AFib and the possible causes of the condition, which include:

  • A history of heart attacks
  • A family history of AFib
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart valve disorder
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Lung disease
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Severe infections
  • Sleep apnea
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Overuse of caffeine
  • Advanced age
  • Stress

If you fit many of these risk factors, you’d better consult your doctor and pay attention to your lifestyle habits, as well as managing current chronic conditions, so that you are able to reduce the risk of getting AFib.

Diagnosis

A mix of physical exams and tests should be performed to be diagnosed with persistent atrial fibrillation. For earlier AFib stages an electrocardiogram may be used as it is the initial diagnostic tool. For more advanced stages, as well as for persistent AFib, your doctor may ask for other tests, including:

  • Chest X-rays – to examine the heart chambers and valves
  • Echocardiogram – to detect heart damage
  • Cardiac event recorder – to measure symptoms over a period of time
  • Exercise stress test – to measure heartbeat after physical activity
  • Blood tests – to search for underlying causes of AFib

Treatment

As already noted, in persistent AFib the heart isn’t able to control itself, but fortunately, medical treatment can help in managing the condition. Potential persistent atrial fibrillation treatment options include:

  • Heart rate control medications

The main goal of treating persistent AFib is to slow down a fast heart rate. Beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and digoxin (Lanoxin) are the typical medications prescribed for this purpose. They reduce electrical activities in the upper and lower heart chambers.

  • Heart rhythm control medications

Other options may sometimes be used together with the above-mentioned to stabilize heart rhythm. These are known as antiarrhythmic medications and include amiodarone (Cordarone, Pacerone), dofetilide (Tikosyn), flecainide, propafenone, and sotalol (Betapace).

  • Blood clot medications

People with AFib are at higher risk of stroke and heart attack. So, to lower this risk, you may be prescribed a blood clotting medication, typically blood thinners also known as anticoagulants. Some examples include rivaroxaban (Xarelto) and warfarin (Coumadin).

To conclude, AFib is quite a serious condition that seeks medical treatment. Luckily, medications can help you manage the disorder. And, if these don’t help, you may undergo a surgical procedure, like catheter ablation, for example, to help control heart rate in persistent AFib. Finally, lifestyle changes are also crucial, like following a healthy diet, stress management, and exercise.

 

What Is Lone Atrial Fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a common and serious type of arrhythmia. It is actually an abnormal or rapid heart rate that occurs as a result of bad coordination between the upper and lower heart chambers. As a result, blood flow becomes poor which increases the risk of blood clots, stroke, and even heart failure.

In general, this type of arrhythmia is caused by current heart disease or abnormality. However, in some cases, AFib can occur without any other underlying heart disease, known as lone atrial fibrillation, i.e. lone AFib. The term is used for those who suffer from AFib and:

  • Have no history of cardiovascular disease
  • Have no history of pulmonary disease
  • Are 60 years of age and don’t have the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), acute infections, systemic inflammatory disease, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, heart failure, or recent cardiothoracic or abdominal surgery.

Lone Atrial Fibrillation Symptoms

Even though atrial fibrillation can be asymptomatic, in other words not cause any symptoms, there are still some common signs that may show you have the condition. These symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Chest pain

And, when it comes to lone atrial fibrillation symptoms, they are typically sporadic. In other words, symptoms occur at irregular intervals and may only last for a few minutes.

Lone Atrial Fibrillation Causes

As we already mentioned, atrial fibrillation is usually connected to other underlying heart diseases or heart abnormalities like high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, congenital heart defect, or abnormal heart valves. Plus, the risk of having AFib grows with age, as well as with obesity or having a family history of the condition.

But, as we explained, lone AFib is when the condition occurs without any other underlying conditions. That said, the cause of lone atrial fibrillation cannot be identified clearly. Still, doctors believe that some factors contribute to this type of arrhythmia, including:

  • Sleep apnea
  • Viral infections
  • Use of medication, alcohol, or tobacco
  • Stress, both physical and emotional
  • Overactive thyroid gland
  • Having a family history of lone AFib

Lone Atrial Fibrillation Diagnosis

If you suspect you have AFib, your doctor may ask you to do some tests which will help determine whether or not you have heart disease or any condition associated with atrial fibrillation. These tests may include

  • an electrocardiogram
  • an echocardiogram
  • a cardiac event recorder
  • chest X-ray
  • stress test
  • blood tests

If these tests don’t indicate any condition, your doctor may diagnose you with lone atrial fibrillation as long as you are 60 and don’t suffer from heart disease or any other related disease.

Lone Atrial Fibrillation Treatment

Depending on the underlying cause your doctor will recommend the most suitable treatment option for AFib. Yet, in the case of lone AFib, determining the right treatment option may be quite challenging as the cause remains unknown.

So, if your doctor suspects some of the above-listed lone AFib factors trigger your arrhythmias like sleep apnea or overactive thyroid gland, you will first have to get a diagnosis and then treat these conditions.

Similarly, if your doctor believes that caffeine, nicotine, alcohol consumption, or excessive physical exercise is to blame, you should cut back on them to see if your symptoms improve. The same goes for emotional stress, so you may be referred to a mental health provider.

The bottom line, if you notice any atrial fibrillation symptoms, ensure you consult your primary care provider and get the right treatment on time.

Different Types of Insomnia

According to statistics, insomnia is one of the most common sleep disorders people suffer from characterized by having difficulty falling and staying asleep. Precisely speaking, about half of the adult population experience insomnia occasionally. What’s more, one in 10 people experience chronic insomnia.

Sadly, the condition can affect anyone, yet women and older adults are more likely to suffer from it. And, its symptoms can last for a couple of days, weeks, or months, and become long-term. Furthermore, there are several different types of insomnia based on the duration, the symptoms, and the underlying cause.

So now, let’s help you differentiate between the different types of insomnia by reading through the following detailed descriptions of each insomnia type.

The Four Different Insomnia Types

  1. Acute Insomnia

Acute insomnia is the medical term for the short-term type of the condition that may last from a few days to several weeks and it’s the most common type of all. But, it’s also known as adjustment insomnia as it usually occurs as a result of a stressful event or a major change in life. Other acute insomnia causes include:

  • Physical discomfort like pain
  • Change of sleeping environment
  • Excess noise or light
  • Specific medications
  • Illness
  • Jet lag

 

  1. Chronic Insomnia

If your symptoms last for at least three days a week for a month it means that you have chronic insomnia which can be either primary or secondary. Primary chronic insomnia also referred to as idiopathic insomnia, doesn’t have a clear cause or underlying health condition causing your sleep troubles. On the other hand, secondary chronic insomnia, also referred to as comorbid insomnia, is caused by an underlying condition. Common chronic insomnia causes include:

  • Mental health conditions
  • Chronic medical conditions
  • Certain medications
  • Caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine
  • Specific lifestyle factors

 

  1. Onset Insomnia

This type of insomnia is characterized by extreme difficulties falling asleep, i.e. initiating sleep. It can be both acute and chronic and can be caused by any of the above-listed potential causes although psychological or psychiatric issues like stress, anxiety, and depression are the most common causes.

Moreover, a study has shown that those who suffer from chronic onset insomnia typically have another sleep disorder like periodic limb movement disorder or restless leg syndrome. Sometimes, drinking too much coffee or other caffeinated drinks is the main culprit for having chronic onset insomnia.

  1. Maintenance Insomnia

Finally and contrary to onset insomnia, there’s also maintenance insomnia which is characterized by facing difficulty staying asleep or waking up way too early and not being able to get back to sleep. People with this type of insomnia usually worry about not being able to get enough sleep, which then impedes sleep further, eventually creating a vicious cycle. Possible maintenance insomnia causes include:

  • Mental health conditions
  • Asthma or other respiratory condition
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Periodic limb movement disorder
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Sleep apnea

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, each of the four types of insomnia can significantly damage the quality of your life and ability to function normally. That said, it is crucial that you consult your doctor if you suspect you may have insomnia, regardless of the type.

A doctor will help you identify the type of insomnia you suffer from and possibly the underlying cause of your condition. Of course, based on the type and the cause a doctor will be able to provide the right treatment option for you.

COPD Symptoms

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a long-term inflammatory lung disease. It refers to a group of diseases that cause obstructed airflow and breathing problems, including emphysema (damage to the air sacs in the lungs) and chronic bronchitis (long-term inflammation of the airways).

The most common symptom of COPD is a chronic cough. Yet, many other symptoms may develop as the condition progresses. What’s more, a patient may experience COPD symptoms episodically, in variable intensity.

To make sure whether or not you need to talk to your doctor about COPD, you should first learn about its symptoms. So, let’s begin and have a closer look at the disease.

Common COPD Symptoms

  1. Chronic Cough

Typically, cough isn’t only the most common symptom but also the one that first develops. If you have a persistent cough that lasts for three months, or even longer, for at least two years in a row, you may be diagnosed with chronic bronchitis.

This cough is generally present daily, although there are no other signs or symptoms of any illness. It occurs as a result of the body trying to remove mucus, secretions, and irritants (such as dust or pollen) from the airways and the lungs.

In COPD patients, the mucus is yellow and the cough is usually worse in the morning or when being physically active and especially in those who smoke cigarettes.

  1. Wheezing

The second COPD symptom is wheezing, a whistling or musical sound, which occurs during the process of exhaling when the air is forced through either narrow or obstructed air passages in the lungs. In COPD patients, this sound is often a result of excess mucus causing obstructions in the airways, as well as muscular tightening which makes the airways even narrower.

However, wheezing is also a common symptom of asthma and pneumonia. Indeed, some people diagnosed with asthma or COPD, 15 to 45 percent to be exact, may also have ACOS (asthma-COPD overlap syndrome) which is a condition that includes symptoms of both diseases.

  1. Dyspnea

Dyspnea, i.e. shortness of breath is yet another COPD symptom. It occurs as a result of swollen, inflamed, and damaged airways in the lungs that start to narrow. As a consequence of the obstruction, COPD patients find it more difficult to catch breath and face breathing issues.

In general, dyspnea is most noticeable when COPD patients are physically active. Unfortunately, any type of increased physical activity, including some basic daily tasks, can result in shortness of breath in those diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Some examples of such tasks include taking a shower, doing household chores, dressing, walking, climbing up and down stairs, etc.

Eventually, such breathing difficulties will lead to experiencing fatigue as your blood and muscles don’t get the oxygen needed.

  1. Frequent Lung Infections

Last but not least, COPD patients have quite weak immune systems and a reduced ability to eliminate pollutants, dust, and other irritants, which makes them more prone to developing respiratory infections like flu, cold, and pneumonia.

Fortunately, they can ward off such lung infections by practicing good hygiene, especially handwashing, as well as getting vaccinated against common infections yearly to avoid the risk of getting infected or decrease the symptoms.

The bottom line, that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease may cause irreversible damage to the lungs. That’s the reason why you need to identify the symptoms on time and consult your doctor to get the right treatment.

What Is Chronic Insomnia and How Is It Treated?

One of the most common sleep disorders people suffer from is insomnia. The disorder is characterized by having trouble falling or/and staying asleep. However, the disorder can be either acute or chronic. Acute insomnia may last for days or weeks and it commonly happens as a result of stress, and lifestyle changes, whereas chronic insomnia, occurs at least three nights a week for three months or more.

So, to help you understand the condition and how it is treated, we’ve decided to come up with the following in-depth guide on chronic insomnia. Just continue reading to learn more.

Chronic Insomnia Symptoms

Chronic insomnia does not only affect your sleep, i.e., doesn’t cause symptoms at night only, but it can also seriously interfere with the quality of your life. Precisely speaking, insomnia symptoms may include:

  • Difficulties falling asleep
  • Trouble staying asleep
  • Frequent awakenings
  • Trouble falling back to sleep
  • Waking up too early
  • Feeling tired upon waking up
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Concentration issues
  • Memory problems
  • Frequent errors and accidents

Chronic Insomnia Causes

Moving on to the causes of the disorder, we must understand that it can be caused by an underlying medical condition, medications, and stimulants, as well as some lifestyle habits. Let’s see them in detail.

Medical Conditions

  • Sleep apnea
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Asthma
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Diabetes
  • Acid reflux
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Chronic pain
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Bipolar disorder

Medications and Stimulants

  • Antidepressants
  • Chemotherapy drugs
  • Beta-blockers
  • Diuretics
  • Certain allergy medications
  • Stimulant laxatives
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine

Lifestyle Habits

  • Doing shift work
  • Physical inactivity
  • Daytime napping
  • Poor sleeping hygiene
  • Jet lag

Chronic Insomnia Treatment

At last, let’s have a look at the possible treatment options for chronic insomnia. Luckily, there are numerous options you could try, from professional medical treatments to lifestyle changes.

In general, the treatment depends on the cause of the disorder so may therefore include medication or therapy addressing the underlying health condition. Also, it is possible that you have to combine different treatment options to treat your chronic insomnia successfully.

Hence, let’s see what chronic insomnia treatment options may include.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

According to research, CBT has proven to be quite beneficial and even as effective as sleep medications when it comes to treating chronic insomnia. But what does the therapy involve? Namely, it is all about learning better sleep habits while changing specific beliefs and behaviors that damage your sleep. Furthermore, CBT for treating chronic insomnia may include different strategies focusing on the disorder including:

  • Cognitive techniques
  • Stimulus control
  • Sleep restriction
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Paradoxical intention

Medications

Numerous prescription medications can help you relieve chronic insomnia symptoms like zolpidem (Ambien), eszopiclone (Lunesta), zaleplon (Sonata), and doxepin (Silenor), ramelteon (Rozerem), etc. Additionally, other over-the-counter sleep aids may also provide relief, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), doxylamine succinate (Unisom SleepTabs), melatonin, and valerian root, etc., but ensure you consult your doctor before taking such sleep aids.

Lifestyle Habits

Finally, you can prevent and even treat insomnia by implementing specific healthy lifestyle habits, i.e. changes in patterns of behavior that may help in falling and staying asleep. Let’s see what you could do:

  • Limit caffeine intake to early evening
  • Avoid smoking cigarettes close to bedtime
  • Stop drinking alcohol before bed
  • Practice regular exercise
  • Avoid daytime napping
  • Have small and light dinners
  • Follow a strict sleep schedule
  • Limit screentime before bed
  • Improve your sleep environment

By following the above-listed tips you can ensure that your sleep hygiene is healthy and finally get the good night’s sleep you’ve been looking for.