by John Williamson
Contributing Editor, MEMS Investor Journal
According to the American Heart Association, atrial fibrillation (AF) is a heart disease affecting some 2.2 million Americans, most of whom are more than 50 years of age. Worldwide estimates range to 6 million patients. Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heart rhythm or arrhythmia caused by an electrical malfunction in the heart itself. This malfunction causes the upper, or atrial chambers, of the heart to quiver or fibrillate, which in turn makes the lower ventricle chambers beat irregularly. While AF shows up on an electrocardiogram, sufferers may exhibit no symptoms. If they do, noticeable palpitations, shortness of breath, fatigue and an uneven pulse may signal the disease. These symptoms may be sporadic.