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Medical Education: Atrial and Ventricular Fibrillation

Author C. Sanders. Published on May 21, 2011 - 3:27 am (3757 views — 196 words)

Atrial fibrillation, also known as "A fib", occurs when the normal rhythmic contractions of the atria are replaced by rapid irregular twitching of the muscular heart wall. This condition causes an irregular and quivering action of the atria. The term fibrillation means a fast, uncontrolled heart beat.

Paroxysmal atrial tachycardia (par-ock-SIZ-mal-tack-ee-KAR-dee-ah), also known as PAT, is an episode that begins and ends abruptly during which there are very rapid and regular heartbeats that originate in the atrium. PAT is caused by an abnormality in the bodys electrical system. Paroxysmal means pertaining to sudden occurrence. Compare with ventricular tachycardia.

Ventricular fibrillation (ven-TRICK-you-ler fih-brih-LAY-shun), also known as "V fib", is the rapid, irregular, and useless contractions of the ventricles. Instead of pumping strongly, the heart muscle quivers ineffectively. This condition is the cause of many sudden cardiac deaths.

Ventricular tachycardia, also known as "V tach", a very rapid heart beat that begins within the ventricles. This condition is potentially fatal because the heart is beating so rapidly that it is unable to adequately pump blood through the body. For some patients, this condition can be controlled with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator. Compare with paroxysmal atrial tachycardia.