Cardiac Cycle

Student Directions: Please answer the following question in a written essay, using complete sentences. Your answers should be typed or computer-printed, and the text should be double-spaced with standard 1-inch margins on all sides and a 12-point font. This is an “open-book” assignment; you are free to consult your textbook and other resources as long as you use your own words to explain your answer. (No plagiarism!) Please cite your references and include a bibliography at the end. Total length should be around 2-3 pages.
You may use the articles that I have uploaded and the 2 additional sources.

Essay Question: The term “fibrillation” refers to rapid, uncoordinated contractions that are ineffective at pumping blood. Atrial fibrillation can signify an underlying serious cardiac condition that warrants further investigation, but does not usually constitute a medical emergency. In contrast, ventricular fibrillation is a true medical emergency that causes cardiac arrest and death within minutes if not treated. Use your knowledge of the cardiac cycle to explain why this is so.

A brief description of the two conditions (atrial fibrillation and ventricular fibrillation) and their treatment is a good way to begin your paper

However, the main point of the question is not only to describe the two conditions, but to explain why one is deadly and the other is not. This is a question that requires you to use your ability to reason and form a conclusion. You probably won’t find the answer on a website, but the answer is easy if you understand the function of the atria versus the function of the ventricles.

To answer the main point of the question, think about how the atria contribute to the volume of the blood in the ventricles…do you remember the concept of “atrial kick ” Then ask yourself how the cardiac output (volume of blood pumped out of the heart with each heartbeat) will be affected if the atria stop functioning

Next, think about the function of the ventricles and ask yourself how the cardiac output (volume of blood pumped out of the heart with each heartbeat) will be affected if the ventricles stop functioning

If you compare the results, then you will easily “get” why one condition (V-fib) is immediately lethal if left untreated while the other condition (A-fib) is serious but not usually a medical emergency.

 
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