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
GCSTX avatar

I just wanted to say how helpful these forums have been to me.

I had a stroke in early October 2018.  After being hospitalized and wearing a halter heart monitor for thirty days, my cardiologist put me on elliquis, a statin, and Multaq.   l lost 30 pounds, got off caffeine, and starting exercising but was told by my cardiologist that the damage was done.  I would be on all the meds long term.

I joined the community and read up on AFIB and everyone's stories.  The $570 bill for 30 days of the Multaq with the start of new year convinced me to find an electrophysiologist as recommended by many people here.

New doctor said no need for Multaq!  Stay on Elliquis and statin (until cholesterol is down - not forever).  Use my Kardia mobile to keep tabs on any AFIB incidents (Something else I found out about here).

I was diagnosed and put on Multaq for 50 seconds of AFIB in a 30 day period.  No enlarged ventricles as described by my cardiologist.  No risk from stopping multaq cold turkey despite warning from cardiologist.

I would never have known what questions to ask or even to see an electrophysiologist without this community.  Read, post, and ask questions.  It works wonders!

Cole

 

 

 

 

Ndisque avatar

My son has had SVT for many years and last year in July he decided he wanted to go through with the ablation procedure. Long story short, he was one of the rare cases with more than normal nodes that needed to be frozen (4 or 5). He had no heart issues for 6 months and then a few weeks ago started feeling his heart skip and feel weird. We took him to the ER to find out he has afib. Bring different than SVT but still part of the heart and it’s beating, the doctors went down his throat to make sure he didn’t have any clots. While under, his heart corrected itself and there were no clots. Fast forward 2 weeks, his heart was acting weird again this morning so we went back to the ER where he had the shock treatment today to get the beating back to normal. 

 I would like to know how many have had afib at this age and did the same procedures. I know it’s rare for a teen to get afib. Did you have the afib occur while on the medicine? 

He also has type 1 diabetes. Does anyone know if there is a correlation of diabetes and afib? Are there any side effects of afib meds on diabetes?

Sorry for all the questions but I just found your site and feel like I have no answers. Any help is greatly appreciated! 

TexyMexy avatar

Hi, Today I was diagnosed with Afib.  Something I never dreamed I would ever have.  I think I had been having episodes for about two years off and on but not severe.  I would attribute them to having a virus or something else.  I would get funny heartbeats for like 2 days and I would be supe exhuasted for that time frame and all of a sudden I was back to normal.  I never once thought of going to the cardiologist.  This started happening about the year we retired and moved to Vegas.  I never gave it a lot of importance because I always returned to normal and my exhaustion went away.  Well two weeks ago I got the flu and it gave me headaches and backaches, runny nose and also funny heartbeats.  I attributed it all to the flu.  Well I had one good day when I felt like myself and then boom back to being exhaused and tired...I couldnt get better.  I made an appointment with the cardiologist and thank God they had a cancellation and took me the next day which was today.  Hello...his diagnoses was AFib.  Now I know all those times I thought I had the flu bug, I was having Afib attacks....  Now I am older and this time when it hit me it just wouldn't get better.  I was born with a congential heart defect and had  heart surgery when I was 18 yrs old and they fixed it but I ended up with High Blood pressure after my third child was born.  So basically I have been taking meds for that most of my life.  It has been under control but now I have this.  I am 71 years old and very active and on the go but these past two weeks have knocked me on my butt.  Please tell me that there is life after this ....I am very concerned about all the new meds I will have to take, like the blood thinnner and a new heart med to slow this heart down.  I am very tired at the moment and I hope my heart will return to normal sooner than later.  I hate to take new meds becasue I am sensitive to meds.   Sorry for the long rant but I sure needed to get this out to people who understand what I am going through.  Texymexy

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