Can Atrial Fibrillation Damage My Heart In A Permanent Way, And Can It Cause A Heart Attack?

Question: Can atrial fibrillation damage my heart in a permanent way, and can it cause a heart attack?

Answer :Atrial fibrillation can result in permanent heart damage, although that's fairly uncommon. The situation in which atrial fibrillation can cause permanent heart damage is if a patient develop atrial fibrillation and the heart rate ends up being very very rapid for a long period of time.

So if someone develops atrial fibrillation, the upper chamber is going let's say 600 beats per minute. If the lower chamber is going more than a hundred beats a minute for weeks or months at a time, that can cause the lower chamber of the heart to wear out and you can develop congestive heart failure and you know, in rare circumstances that can cause you to have cardiac arrest and die.

Now the good news is, the type of heart failure that atrial fibrillation causes typically is reversible. And that if you slow the atrial fibrillation down, or get rid of it, the lower chamber of the heart commonly will recover either completely or almost completely.

In terms of a heart attack, a heart attack really is when the coronary artery occludes and you don't get enough blood supply to the heart and you damage or kill certain segments of the heart. And atrial fibrillation does not cause a heart attack per say. That's caused by blockages in the heart arteries.