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
MJODRH avatar

Hello!  I am 49 years old and a few months ago I was diagnosed with AFib.  About a year and a half ago wore a Zio patch and the results came back as SVT.  My medication was chaged to Hydralazine for HBP and Metropolol.  At first I seemed to respond well but then the palpitations/irregular heartbeat would return.  My meds would be increased and wash, rinse, repeat on the effects.  As my palpitation seemed to get worse, more often and longer, the doctor did another Zio patch.  When the results came back it showed I had Afib and I received like 4 or 5 calls from doctors to work out getting me on an appropriate thinner and to an EP.  My medication was increased again with minimal if any improvement.  This journey I've been on has been very frustrating and scary as it seems no matter the treatment what they episodes just get worse.   What stated as just some random palpiation has turned into episodes every few days that will last for ~12 hours and almost always start in the evening or during the night.  These episodes make me feel tired, anxious, and just overal lethargic.  Also, it increases my urine output and can keep we awake with ongoing trips to the bathroom.  The increased uriniation truly bothers me as as it is dehydrating and I worry about additional stress on my kidney as I am a transplant patient (post transplant 31 years, YAY!).  The kidney transplant also makes antiarthymics not a good choice. 

I don't know where this new Afib journey is going to take me, but I can tell you that the emotional toll is feeling heavy right now.  I hope that by reading about people's experiences will help me to process better and enlighten me with ways to identify triggers and communicate with my cardiologist/EP.

Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing your experiences.

MJ

NOLADan avatar

Hello. I'm 47 years old and was diagnosed with A-Fib just before Thanksgiving. 

I had an ablation Jan 29, and I enjoyed sinus rhythm for 3 days!  A few days later, back to the ER.

Last week I had my first cardioversion and got to enjoy a nice, slow sinus rhythm for 2 days. Today marks my 6th day in Afib without a break. 

I was taking Toporol 50mg 2x a day, Flecainide 150mg 2x a day, and Eliquis 5mg 2x a day.  Now the doctor has stopped my Flecainide and Sunday I start taking 400mg Amiodarone 2x a day.

I've been reading up on Amiodarone, and I have to say I'm scared to start taking it.

Been lurking and reading posts, and just felt the need to vent a little! Thanks

 

chmayer avatar

Had bypass surgery in 2004. Relatively good condition up until now. I was walking frequently and heart rate elevated some (90-110). I would rest for a few minutes and all was fine again. Two weeks before a scheduled Stress Test. I had same elevation to about 105 with normal sinus rythm. During the stress test A-FIB. They said my heart was very strong. Was perscribed Eliquis with directions. I am 77,  BMI is 23, and take numerous suplements. Now I know what Afib feels like. I never had it before the test! Now anytime I do any physical labor or exercise I get afib and it takes about 20 minutes to an hour to recover to normal sinus rythm. My cardoligist was upset that I had been given the stress test.

My question is did (can) a stress test initiate/start afib???  What now? Looks like western medicine is doing its best to hurt me.

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