Atrial fibrillation is closely linked with age. The older we get the higher our risk is of developing it. It is extremely rare for atrial fibrillation to develop in younger patients, unless they have an underlying heart condition. Experts say there are many cases in which the cause of the atrial fibrillation was never found.
Here is a list of the most common causes:
- Hypertension - high blood pressure.
- Coronary artery disease - also known as coronary heart disease. Plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries. These arteries supply the heart muscle with blood that is rich in oxygen.
- Congenital heart disease - problems with the heart's structure which are present at birth. This could include defects to the heart's interior walls, the valves, or blood vessels that carry blood to and from the heart. Congenital heart defects alter the normal flow of blood through the heart.
- Mitral valve disease - the abnormal leaking of blood through the mitral valve, from the left ventricle into the left atrium of the heart.
- Cardiomyopathy - a serious disease in which the heart muscle becomes inflamed and doesn't work as well as it should.
- Pericarditis - inflammation of the pericardium - a protective lining that surrounds the heart.
- Previous heart surgery - a significantly higher percentage of patients who have had heart surgery develop atrial fibrillation, compared to other people.
- Hyperthyroidism - the thyroid gland is overactive.
- Sleep apnea - this is a common disorder in which the patient has one or more pauses in breathing, or shallow breathing, during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea commonly causes high blood pressure (hypertension), which in turn raises the risk of heart problems and stroke.
- Alcohol abuse - regular, excessive, long-term consumption of alcohol is closely linked to a higher risk of developing atrial fibrillation. A study carried out by scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center showed that risk of atrial fibrillation was as much as 45 percent higher among heavy drinkers than abstainers.
- Smoking - smoking has been linked to several heart problems, including atrial fibrillation.
- Excessive caffeine consumption - this could include too many coffees, energy drinks, and or sodas (fizzy drinks). Many sodas have caffeine in them.
- Atraial flutter - this is similar to atrial fibrillation, however abnormal heart rhythms of the atria are less chaotic and more organized than in atrial fibrillation. Atrial flutter can develop into atrial fibrillation.
Several types of chest infections and conditions:
- Lung cancer
- Chest infections
- Pulmonary embolism
- Carbon monoxide poisoning