What is AFib, or Atrial Fibrillation?

What is AFib, or Atrial Fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation (also called AFib or AF) is a quivering or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. Some people refer to AF as a quivering heart. An estimated 2.7 million Americans are living with AF.   

Here’s how patients have described their experience:

“My heart flip-flops, skips beats, and feels like it’s banging against my chest wall, especially if I’m carrying stuff up my stairs or bending down.” "

I was nauseated, light-headed, and weak. I had a really fast heartbeat and felt like I was gasping for air.”

“I had no symptoms at all. I discovered my AF at a regular check-up. I’m glad we found it early.”

 

What happens during AFib?


Normally, your heart contracts and relaxes to a regular beat. In atrial fibrillation, the upper chambers of the heart (the atria) beat irregularly (quiver) instead of beating effectively to move blood into the ventricles. About 15–20 percent of people who have strokes have this heart arrhythmia.

“Anything that allows blood to slow down or pool increases the risk of clotting, and so increases the risk of stroke,” says Dr. Steve Roach, Professor of Neurology and Director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Program at Wake Forest University Medical School.

If a clot breaks off, enters the bloodstream and lodges in an artery leading to the brain, a stroke results.“ This clot risk is why patients with this condition are put on blood thinners. People with atrial fibrillation have an increased stroke risk of about five percent per year.”

It's the most common "serious" heart rhythm abnormality in people over the age of 65 years. Even though untreated atrial fibrillation doubles the risk of heart-related deaths and causes a 4–5-fold increased risk for stroke, many patients are unaware that AF is a serious condition.

Watch an animation of atrial fibrillation.

According to the 2009 “Out of Sync” survey:

  • Only 33% of AF patients think atrial fibrillation is a serious condition
  • Less than half of AF patients believe they have an increased risk for stroke or heart-related hospitalizations or death


AFib Treatment Saves Lives & Lowers Risks


If you or someone you love has atrial fibrillation, learn more about what AFib is, why treatment can save lives, and what you can do to reach your goals, lower your risks and live a healthy life.

If you think you may have atrial fibrillation, here are your most important steps:

  1. Know the symptoms
  2. Get the right treatment
  3. Reduce risks for stroke and heart failure


We’re here to help you live your healthiest life!

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Recent Discussions From The Newly Diagnosed Forum
JohnnyTiger avatar

Hi everyone.  I was diagnosed with Paroxysmal Afib just over a month ago.  Episodes are now occuring about once a week and can last from a couple of hours to over 24 hours.  I'm physically fit and have been doing weight training and intense cardio most of my adult life.  Resting heart rate usually hovers around 57-58.   I eat well, am not a big drinker (weekends only), and have never smoked.  The episodes I've had are awful, my heartrate will bounce from 60 to 130 to 170 at the drop of a hat, and it's affected my performance at work and my quality of life.  My cardiologist has me on 10mg bisoprolol daily and 5mg Eliquis twice a day, I understand the importance of taking a blood thinner but the bisoprolol only seems to lower my HR at rest and does absolutely nothing during an AFib attack.  Supplements include Taurine, Ubiquinol, regular COQ10, Magnesium, Vitamin D and Vitamin K2.  

A couple of interesting points I've noted:

a.)  Attacks often come on when I'm lying down, relaxing on the couch.  

b.)  They are never triggered by food intake, alcohol, and are only seldom triggered by exercise

c.)  I have stopped a total of 3 attacks by jumping on my Assault Bike (basically an exercise bike with your upper body contributing) and doing 15 minutes of hard cardio at about 80% max effort.  I did this today as a matter of fact

d.)  Mild exercise (walking, yardwork, etc) does nothing to stop an attack

Anyway, just wanted to introduce myself and i look forward to learning more and forming a plan of action against this miserable condition

 

 

emeraldmezzo avatar

I'm a 67 year old female diagnosed a day ago. I'm on Eliquis and Cardizem (sp?). Will I ever live normally again? I get out of breath going to the mailbox or up one small flight of stairs? Will I ever walk a mile again? Or swim? Or vacuum my living room without shortness of breath? I feelike I'm 90.  I hate this and I'm frightened. I'm having a TEE test on Thursday. Any advice/support would be very much appreciated. 

winnifred55 avatar

Laying in bed on the morning of 11/30 I started getting a fast irregular heartbeat and was lightheaded, nauseated, and had chest tightness. After about an hour I called the doctor, who said to go to the ER. By the time I was able to get childcare and get to the hospital, it had resolved. They recommended following up with a cardiologist if I had further symptoms. 

Since then I've had frequent palpitations during the day and episodes that my fitbit has classified as afib every day or every other day lasting 5-10 minutes. Brought the PDFs of these to my first cardiology appointment and he diagnosed paroxysmal afib based on them and did an echo which came back normal. He put me on metropolol and said that after a few weeks of being on this, afib should go away and stay gone since I have no structural abnormalities. 

I've been on it for a week now, and still having a lot of palpitations. Slightly fewer afib episodes - only 3 in the last week, but they are lasting longer - closer to an hour. 

Has anyone ever had short term metropolol "cure" their afib?

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