Atrial fibrillation (also called AFib or AF) is a quivering or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. According to the American Heart Association, at least 2.7 million Americans are living with AFib.
AFib is the most common type of irregular heartbeat. The abnormal firing of electrical impulses causes the atria (the top chambers in the heart) to quiver (or fibrillate). View an animation of AFib from the American Heart Association.
Atrial Fibrillation Symptoms
The most common AFib symptom is a quivering or fluttering heartbeat. Some people may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- General fatigue
- Rapid and irregular heartbeat
- Fluttering or “thumping” in the chest
- Shortness of breath and anxiety
- Faintness or confusion
- Fatigue when exercising
- *Chest pain or pressure
*Chest pain or pressure is a medical emergency. You may be having a heart attack. Call 911 immediately.
Dangers Associated with Atrial Fibrillation
AFib can lead to other medical problems, including:
- Heart failure
- Chronic fatigue
- Additional heart rhythm problems
- Inconsistent blood supply
The risk of stroke is five times higher in people with AFib because blood can pool in the atria and blood clots can form.
When to See a Doctor
You should contact your doctor as soon as you notice AFib symptoms. Even if your symptoms go away, it’s still important to have a physical exam and monitor your heart’s activity.
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