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
jvanslycke avatar

Hello everyone! I am a 40 year old male, fairly active, and diagnosed with Paroxysmal AFib late September 2019. For the benefit of those who ask about Apple Watch effectiveness, I wasn't feeling well for ~2 days and my Apple Watch 3 alerted me I was in AFib (Heart monitoring was not a reason I bought the watch). A trip to the Dr. and an EKG confirmed I was in AFib. I exited AFib on my own after 4 days, before a Cardioversion was scheduled. Since then I had a 2nd episode, which lasted 3 days and I was able to end with Exercise after reading this article (https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM200212193472522). [Note, I am not a Dr. or endorsing the article, sharing my experience. Also not a lawyer despite the disclaimer :-) ]

I started seeing a cardiologist, who gave the advice that my risk factors are low and only prescribed daily baby aspirin to reduce stroke risk if I go into AFib. I have had an Echo (Normal) and Stress Test (results have not been shared yet). I have stopped drinking caffeine and eliminated alcohol (with a few exceptions here and there).

My question is how everyone feels when they are not in AFib? I personally feel "off" still. I don't know a better way to explain it. I feel like my heart rate rises more than it should with simple activity. At times I feel like my heart beat is off, my chest feels heavy (not chest pain), etc. I am going to follow up with my Cardiologist (I actually had another who specialized is Electrical Cardiology recommended that I might see as well), however I am wondering if others feel the same way?

I am a rather positive person, in a high stress job, but I typically do not feel stressed. I haven't ruled out the mental aspect of having the diagnosis and now feeling off. I still run 2 - 3 times a week and have not struggled at all with exercise.

Anyway, I appreciate the input if others feel "off" even when not in an AFib Episode.

 

 

 

 

 

 

58brendaB avatar

Hi I am new here and I just want to introduce myself.
--- Not really sure where I am supposed to post --- Sorry I have in a couple places

 

A little background , I am 61 now ( 2019 )
I have had AF since 2014 
Once a yr prior I went to the ER with what they said was tachycardia. They sent me home saying I was under stress - I had had a loss in the family.

Two yrs later in 2014 I was sitting at the table and my heart was racing.

Decided to go to the hospital because I was attempting to take my BP with a home cuff and it would not register.

My heart rate at the hospital was over 220
I converted approx 7 hours later with medication. I was admitted and spent 3 days.Hospital Dr said I needed metoprolol and blood thinners. In his words OR I was going to die.( NICE TO HEAR AS I WAS ALREADY SCARED)

Ever since my first bout of AF I have had ringing in ONE EAR 24/7 365
Cardiologist says it was unrelated, however it happened at that exact time & I have no reason to believe it isn't related.

I went to ENT, 2 neurologists , Ear Dr, and PCP had every test known including a brain scan all found nothing wrong. BUT, It persists to this day.

 

I had a cardiologist from my previous episode of tachycardia & I went to see him and he told me there was a 5 point system to determine treatment and I was under 1.
He suggested Propanolol ( 10mg) AS NEEDED and an aspirin daily. The aspirin was lowered to ½ and then eliminated due to a new study that it is ineffective in treatment.He said when I am 65 we will re-evaluate treatment.

I do NOT have HBP ( it does spike in an episode ) or any other conditions. I am overweight

I have had a stress test ,EKG'S and a halter monitor a couple times
ALL NORMAL
I take

Magnesium Oxide 600mg.

Garlic

D3

C

Sometimes potassium and B12 and fish oil

& drink A LOT of water
No caffeine

I do have episodes of AF
In the last 2 years I have had 5
I take pill as soon as I feel it and generally convert within a hour & all is well.UNLESS, I have a long bout which lasts a couple maybe 4 hours + and required 2 pills.

THEN THE PROBLEMS BEGIN

For days sometimes weeks I am off.

I have some breakthrough palpitations and I am SO exhausted I can't function.

I am woozy – not light headed more like swaying  on a ship. Not moving helps.In turn I get nervous anxiety, then sometimes palpitations.


I do feel it is related to the ringing in my ear & is triggered with AF But that is of little comfort. They say It takes time to “balance out”

I have tried ( Dr suggested) water-pills and mucinex as well as benadryl sometimes it will help a little Others times not at all.

Does ANYONE else have this kind of experience ? I really need some input!!! I am week 3 after an episode and this one is really difficult.

ThomasP avatar

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED for CARDIOVASCULAR RESEARCH STUDY 

Hello, my name is Thomas V. Parinello, and I am a doctoral candidate in the clinical psychology program at Fielding Graduate University. I am conducting my dissertation research on cardiovascular self-care and depression and am looking for participants.

The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between self-care and depression in cardiovascular patients when other factors are involved. This research also aims to improve cardiovascular rehabilitation programs and treatment outcomes.

This study is voluntary, anonymous, and confidential and will take approximately 15 minutes to complete a series of questions on a secure website.

TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS RESEARCH, YOU:

- Must be 18 years of age or older

- May be experiencing symptoms of depression or may be diagnosed with a depressive disorder. Symptoms of depression include but are not limited to, decreased overall mood, low energy, fatigue, poor concentration, poor sleep, feelings of hopelessness.

AND WITHIN THE LAST 12-MONTHS:

- Have been diagnosed with a cardiovascular condition, OR

- Have suffered from a cardiovascular related event, OR

- Have undergone cardiovascular related surgery

 

To participate in this study, please visit the below website

http://bit.ly/fgu_cardiostudy

 

If you have questions or would like more information about this study, please feel free to contact me:

Thomas V. Parinello, M.A., Ed.S

Fielding Graduate University

tparinello@email.fielding.edu

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