Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation

Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation


The most common symptom: a quivering or fluttering heartbeat


Atrial fibrillation (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 atrial fibrillation.

Additional common symptoms of atrial fibrillation


Sometimes people with AFib have no symptoms and their condition is only detectable upon physical examination. Still, others may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • General fatigue
  • Rapid and irregular heartbeat
  • Fluttering or “thumping” in the chest
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath and anxiety
  • Weakness
  • Faintness or confusion
  • Fatigue when exercising
  • Sweating
  • *Chest pain or pressure
  • *Chest pain or pressure is a medical emergency. You may be having a heart attack. Call 9-1-1 immediately.


Are there different types of AFib? Do they have different symptoms?


The symptoms are generally the same; however the duration of the AFib and underlying reasons for the condition help medical practitioners classify the type of AFib problems.

  • "Paroxysmal fibrillation" is when the heart returns to a normal rhythm on its own within 7 days of its start. People who have this type of AFib may have episodes only a few times a year or their symptoms may occur every day. These symptoms are very unpredictable and often can turn into a permanent form of atrial fibrillation.
  • Persistent AFib is defined as an irregular rhythm that lasts for longer than 7 days. This type of atrial fibrillation will not return to normal sinus rhythm on its own and will require some form of treatment.
  • Permanent AFib occurs when the condition lasts indefinitely and the patient and doctor have decided not to continue further attempts to restore normal rhythm.

Over a period of time, "paroxysmal fibrillation" may become more frequent and longer lasting, sometimes leading to permanent or chronic AFib. All types of AFib can increase your risk of stroke. Even if you have no symptoms at all, you are nearly 5 times more likely to have a stroke than someone who doesn’t have atrial fibrillation.

How are heart attack symptoms different from AFib symptoms?


Fluttering and palpitations are key symptoms of AFib and is the key difference, but many heart problems have similar warning signs. If you think you may be having a heart attack, DON’T DELAY. Get emergency help by calling 9-1-1 immediately. A heart attack is a blockage of blood flow to the heart, often caused by a clot or build-up of plaque lodging in the coronary artery (a blood vessel that carries blood to part of the heart muscle). A heart attack can damage or destroy part of your heart muscle. Some heart attacks are sudden and intense — where no one doubts what's happening. But most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected aren't sure what's wrong and wait too long before getting help.

People living with AFib should know the symptoms of a stroke


As stated earlier, having atrial fibrillation can put you at an increased risk for stroke. Here are the warning signs that you should be aware of:

Stroke Warning Signs - Spot a stroke F. A. S. T.

  • Face Drooping Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
  • Arm Weakness Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech Difficulty Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like "the sky is blue." Is the sentence repeated correctly?
  • Time to call 9-1-1 If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.
Recent Discussions From The Newly Diagnosed Forum
SinusRhythm avatar

Hi.

I've been recently diagnosed with A Fib.  I was diagnosed in December 2017.  Went to the ER and ended up being admitted for 2 nights.  I'm now taking Cardizem 270mg 1 capsule daily.  Also Metoprolol 25mg twice a day and Eliquis 5mg twice a day.  What I've noticed in the past few weeks is that I'm now having shortness of breath along with the flutter.  Actually the shortness of breath seems to be the main symptom now.  I don't feel the flutter as much anymore only the shortness of breath feeling.  My cardiologist told me that my Echo shows no signs of Congestive Heart Failure.  He said that the blood flow looked good and my heart was strong.  I have a sleep study appt coming up.  I've been told about the antirhythmic meds and will consider that after I have the sleep study.  I'm also overweight and in the process of diet and exercise.  56 years old.  The doctor told me that I apparently have the gene that was passed down to me from my dad that gave me A Fib.  My question is with my shortness of breath.  I'm wondering why I now have shortness of breath at least once a day which lasts maybe 1-2 hours.  Could this be the meds? (I'm thinking it's not the meds since I've been on them since December and no shortness of breath until recently).  Could it be that blood is now backing up into my pulmonary vein causes it?  If so would a chest xray determine that?  I also can lay down at any time of day and fall sound asleep for 2-3 hours.   I'm feeling some anxiety wondering about it.  I have an upcoming appt with my doctor but thought I would put this out to the community in the meantime.  Also let me say this... When there is no shortness of breath and no flutter happening I wouldn't even know I have this disease since at those times I feel fine.


Thank you      

whackyshoe avatar

I recently had a Holter Monitor test, and was informed that there were 10 abnormal beats in the 24 hour period, and was subsequently diagnosed with AFib and put on blood thinners.  This was shocking to me.  I didn't know how to react.  And now I'm curious about, and cannot find any information on why one 10-beat "episode" is considered AFib.  We are going to repeat the test again in 1 month.  I'm guessing the blood thinners (Pradaxa) is just a precautionary exercise at this point in time.  I'm a 67 female, exercise regularly (Zone 2 most days, Zone 1 for 90 minutes every day), and work at a high stress desk job (software engineer) every day.  I am overweight (BMI 32).  I don't have any other chronic conditions (yet).  I have been following the DASH guidelines, and have started following Dean Ornish rules for the past 10 weeks (it's hard!!!).  I do not have high blood pressure (126/62).  Can someone confirm that 10 beats falls within the realm of an AFib diagnosis?

MrsZee avatar

I am just wondering if anyone knows this:  what is Metaprolol actually do?  Is it for heart rhythm control or heart rate control or both? 

My doctor only mentioned that it would slow my heart rate so I am not certain what else it does?

Thanks everyone,

Terri

 

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