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:
- 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.