One of the most important things for patients is to understand their diagnoses and healthcare. The pathophysiology and terminology of diseases are not easy for most people to understand and it is important to bring it to a level that they can comprehend. Atrial fibrillation is a disease process that can be very difficult to understand and treatment can be complicated. Patient education guides are necessary to provide the patients with easy to understand information that they can refer back to and build off of. This paper aims to describe the pathophysiology of atrial fibrillation and the rationale behind the information included in the patient education tool.
Atrial Fibrillation: A Patient Education Guide
The heart is a muscle that contains four chambers; the right atrium, left atrium, right ventricle, and left ventricle. Each of these chambers has a purpose. The right ventricle pumps blood to the lungs and the left ventricle pumps blood to the rest of the body. The right atrium receives deoxygenated blood via the superior and inferior vena cava. The blood then goes through the right ventricle and out to the lungs where it becomes oxygenated. The oxygenated blood then travels to the left atrium via the pulmonary veins, to the left ventricle, and then out to the rest of the body and organs through the aorta. The blood also supplies oxygen and nutrients to the heart via the coronary arteries that branch from the aorta.
This pumping action of blood flow is controlled by electrical impulses in the heart. It begins at the Sinoatrial node (SA node), located in the right atrium. When the blood fills in the right atrium, the electrical signal sends an impulse across the left and right atria, which cause the atria to contract. The P wave on an EKG marks the contraction of the atria. The signal then arrives from the SA node to the Atrioventricular node (AV node) located near the ventricles. This allows the ventricles to fill with blood. On an EKG, this...