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
Nightsky avatar

Hello All, Great site! Just read a lot of info that I find very helpful. I have always had the "storm in my chest" feeling as long as I can rememner (I am 61) but never came out to be AFib until today....bittersweet I guess. My Cadio mentioned Elequis and come back in a Month, then he wants to do some sort of "shock" treatment at the Hospital, sounds like I am medicated and then like a defibralator, my heart is shocked "back into sync" and he says this has a pretty good sucess rate. 

I didn't see anything about it here....I mentioned abilation, he said he wanted to do this first. He also gave me a brochure on the "Watchman" from Boston Scientific, which is basically a strainer/fill plug that takes up the space where the blood pools and also has a good sucess rate? Anyone had either of these proceedures done? 

Thanks for your time, look forward to responses. By the way I am a CPAP user (very compliant) and a bit overweight, light coffee drinker (1 a day), non-smoker and no drugs or alcohol, diabetic type 2 with a pump, under control. 

 

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.

njm5876 avatar

My husband was recently diagnosed with paroxysmal Afib ( March 2019)  He is scheduled for ablation July 15. Husband's normal resting HR is 50-60 --highest with Afib episode was 168.  His symptoms were some chest pressure, heart flip-flopping with fatigue.

  EP doc had him start taking Multaq for 2 weeks, no help at all.  He changed him to Sotalol 6 days ago. His HR is now down in the low 40's possibly lower as the monitor we have at home doesn't register lower than 40.  He has been exhausted since starting Sotalol- he takes 160 mg/day.  It has caused him some stomach related issues - I have noticed some shortness of breath - more fatigued than before.  He actually seems to be feeling worse on the meds than without. He is to go tomorrow to have an EKG -I am hoping he will let them know how he has been feeling the last week.  The husband has been down in the dumps and grumpy since taking Sotalol.  

EP says he also has tachy-brady syndrome..but says we need to tackle the AFib before the bradycardia.  

I think he needs to come off the Sotalol but since I am not a medical pro I may have it wrong.  I just want something to help him to feel better NOT make him worse.

Thanks for listening!! 

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