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
Nesshan avatar

Last Wednesday I woke up and was sitting in bed. I felt my heart beating oddly and after that my chest felt uncomfortable, I told my sister how I was feeling and at that point my heart started beating really fast. I thought I was having a heart attack and was about to die. 

Sister took me to the ER where they checked my pulse and put me on an IV I hadn't been told what it was until I was moved to the Hospital, I wasn't allowed to walk and then I was told that I was in AFib. 

Later that night a nurse said I "converted" and all was well. 

The next day I had a ultrasound on my heart done and etc.

The doctors didn't mention anything bad going on and explained that I had AFib probably because of sleep apnea and being overweight. He told me I should work on losing weight and eating better to fix it.

I'm on Eliquis and Diltiazem, I wasn't told how long but was told I shouldn't run out of Eliquis. 

I'm still terrified of havhav that happen again and I have no one else to talk to about this. 

After having AFib and converting, and being on this medication. What are the possobiliposs of having to experience that again ? I'm trying to exercise more but I'm scared of something happening again.

sunbirds avatar

I am having a hard time too.  I went to bed last Friday, 3/8, and couldn't go to sleep because my heart was pounding so hard it felt like it was a drum beating on my mattress.  I have never had that happen before. I had had flutters for a couple weeks off & on after my company left, but didn't think about it. This time I couldn't ignore it. My heart was beating so hard I thought it would stop beating altogether just from wearing itself out, so I called the police dept and asked them to call RMSA. They got here within 15 minutes, lights flashing, waking up all the neighbors, hooked me up to their portable EKG, got alarmed and loaded me into the ambulance. I was still in my PJs and robe with slippers. We left in such a hurry that the paramedic couldn't even lock my door right.  I went into a WOP mode (whatever that is) on the way to the hospital.  I was shaking uncontrollably and shivering like I was in a snowstorm even though the ambulance was warm.  So got to the hospital and they gave me baby aspirin and Pepsid, then some other drug, and finally after about two hours my heart went back into rhythm and I could go home.  I can't figure out what caused it.  I have low blood pressure and am in excellent health, or thought I was. I'm scared, terrified, and the more I read the more scared I get.  I read that people with afib have shorter life spans. I'm on Xarelto now, and was told I would probably be on it for life, which means if I'm in an accident I could bleed to death before I could get help.  I have no one to talk to. No one in my family has any heart problems even though my dad did.  The doc still hasn't scheduled me in. I wish I had a friend to talk to about this.  I have no idea now what my future will be like.  Can anyone shed some light on this for me?

muddynwv avatar

 

Hello! I am new to the cardiac/AFib world. I was recently diagnosed with my heart going  in and out of AFib while having long pauses and bradycardia.  My cardiologist said he is unable to treat the AFib with medication due to my resting HR normally in the 40’s and sometimes as low as the 30’s. (I do have sporatic dips throughout the day as well) My average awake HR is 60-70, I am scheduled for a sleep study next week to rule out apnea. If the low rate is not due to apnea we will discuss PM/Def.  Has anyone corrected their bradycardia with getting apnea treated?  Also, what medications have you used for AFib if your HR is on the lower side? 

dark overlay when lightbox active