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
Brea0510 avatar

Hi,

I am 45, 4years ago I had a horrible anxiety attack I struggle with daily. December of 2019 I went to ER with Afib had a echocardiogram week later all good no issues till end of March 2020 had another Afib, both episodes I was able to go back in sinus at ER with medication. Last attack doc put me on 25 MG metoprolol twice day been on for 7days I assume take time to adjust and low dose aspirin. Since my last attack I noticed I am very nervous especially in morning. Everyday check heart rate, blood pressure every pain in arms or chest I freak out does not help. Currently all I have for the anxiety is Xanax been worried taking with metoprolol, I was not big fan of lexapro or any other anxiety meds, prior to last attack I was starting to get anxiety under control. Any advice on dealing with both these conditions together will be much appreciated. 

thanks,

geoff

wblanier87 avatar

Hello everyone,

2 weeks ago I woke up with a 'flutterly' feeling in my chest which would lead to an ED visit a few days later (I work in a hospital).  After 2 bags of IV fluids the symptoms went away and stayed away for a day or two.  The flutters came back and I went over to see our cardiologist who noted PACs on my EKG.  So that leads me to today, sitting here wearing a monitor (BodyGuardian Mini Plus) to if we can capture any data.  The flutters still happen but last night I had a pretty rough episode and the company sent the results to my Cardio.  He called me an said he noted some Afib and has now referred me to an EP whom I am going to see tomorrow.  I am 32 years old, no issues with HBP or cholesterol and this has popped up all of a sudden.  As you can imagine this is alot to take in and I am extremly nervous.  After my ED visit my GP noted that I needed a sleep study(Which has been ordered) and my blood work showed that my Thyroid TSH panel was normal other than my Thyroid Peroxidase (TPO) which was sky high at 122.  It was also noted that my white blood cell count was extremly hugh (18.5)  I am hoping that we can get to the bottom of this soon as this is not a fun feeling to have regulary throughout the day.

My mom found this community for me and I hope to learn here.

- Brandon

Neanderthal avatar

Hi,

Except for persistent Afib, I am a healthy 56 yr. old man.  My blood pressure is low, cholesterol is 121, resting heartbeat use to be around 57, blood sugars are good.  I was a runner, mountain bike racer, competitive surfer and competitive tennis player.  A few months ago I went in for a normal physical and the Dr noticed an abnormal heartbeat and sent me to the heart specialist where I was diagnosed with persistent Afib.  I'm on 50 mg of metroprolol and a blood thinner but I'm still in persistent Afib.  I still walk 3 miles per day in the mountains and I still go to work every day.  2 hours after taking my first dose of metroprolol I felt like a new man but am still in the Afib.

I believe that (but have no evidence to support) the herpes virus 2 (genital herpes) attacked my heart and caused this.  A virus attacked my inner ear 4 yrs. ago and I've lost my hearing in my left ear.  I read a study done in Taiwan that said that people with herpes virus 2 have a higher rate of Afib.

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