This therefore means that sports performers need to have excellent health conditions so that their performance can be optimal. There are certain health conditions that are known to have adverse effects on the sports performers. Atrial fibrillation is one such health condition that can affect the performance of sports men and women. Atrial fibrillation not only affects the performance during sports activities but also during exercise and practice of sports. This paper will attempt to find out how atrial fibrillation affects sports performers on different levels.
Atrial fibrillation is considered the most common form of abnormal heart rhythm (cardiac arrhythmia). This condition is a common cause of irregular heartbeats which can be clinically identified by checking the pulse rate. The human heart is known to have four chambers, two upper ones and two lower ones (Thrall, Lane, Carroll & Lip 2006, p. 1). The left atrium and the right atrium (plural-atria), make up the upper chamber of the heart. When these two upper chambers- the atria contract in a way that is irregular and at a rate that is excessively high, a patient is said to suffer from atrial fibrillation (Dobrev & Nattel 2010, p. 1212).
The heart is said to function using an electric system which enables it to pump blood to the rest of the human body. Each heart beat takes place when the upper chambers (atria) contract and push blood to the lower chambers which then take it to the rest of the body. When these actions are repeated severally, they allow the heart to function as an effective pump of blood to the entire body. This is considered to be the normal heart rhythm (Stewart, Murphy, Walker, McGuire & McMurray 2004, p. 290). The electrical impulse that is responsible for ensuring the electrical system of the heart is maintained begins at the sinoatrial node which is found in the right atrium. The sinoatrial node is responsible for adjusting the rate of the electrical impulses depending on the activity that someone is doing (Benjamin, Chen, Bild & Mascette et al. 2009, p. 610). For example, the sinoatrial node will increase the rate of impulse when someone is exercising or practicing sports because more blood needs to be pumped to body. The same nodes will decrease the rate of electric impulse when the person is sleeping because little blood is needed to keep the body running. The impulse that has been generated then travels to the atrioventricular node which acts as a bridge that allows the movement of impulses from the atria to the ventricles. When these impulses travel through the walls of the ventricles, they force them to contract and pump blood out of the heart into the rest of the body where it is needed for various functions (Crandall, Bradley, Packer & Asirvatham 2009, p. 645). As seen earlier, atrial fibrillation is a considered the most common form of irregular heartbeat rhythm which is known to start in the atria. Instead of sinoatrial node directing the normal electric rhythm of the heart, there are many different impulses that are rapidly fired at once. These rapid impulses cause a very chaotic and fast rhythm of the heart in the atria. The atria fail to contract and squeeze blood effectively into the ventricle as it ought to because the electrical impulses being generated are so chaotic and fast (Anter, Jessup & Callans 2009, p. 2518). The impulse is supposed to travel in an