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!

Recent Discussions From The Newly Diagnosed Forum
MJODRH avatar

Hello!  I am 49 years old and a few months ago I was diagnosed with AFib.  About a year and a half ago wore a Zio patch and the results came back as SVT.  My medication was chaged to Hydralazine for HBP and Metropolol.  At first I seemed to respond well but then the palpitations/irregular heartbeat would return.  My meds would be increased and wash, rinse, repeat on the effects.  As my palpitation seemed to get worse, more often and longer, the doctor did another Zio patch.  When the results came back it showed I had Afib and I received like 4 or 5 calls from doctors to work out getting me on an appropriate thinner and to an EP.  My medication was increased again with minimal if any improvement.  This journey I've been on has been very frustrating and scary as it seems no matter the treatment what they episodes just get worse.   What stated as just some random palpiation has turned into episodes every few days that will last for ~12 hours and almost always start in the evening or during the night.  These episodes make me feel tired, anxious, and just overal lethargic.  Also, it increases my urine output and can keep we awake with ongoing trips to the bathroom.  The increased uriniation truly bothers me as as it is dehydrating and I worry about additional stress on my kidney as I am a transplant patient (post transplant 31 years, YAY!).  The kidney transplant also makes antiarthymics not a good choice. 

I don't know where this new Afib journey is going to take me, but I can tell you that the emotional toll is feeling heavy right now.  I hope that by reading about people's experiences will help me to process better and enlighten me with ways to identify triggers and communicate with my cardiologist/EP.

Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing your experiences.

MJ

NOLADan avatar

Hello. I'm 47 years old and was diagnosed with A-Fib just before Thanksgiving. 

I had an ablation Jan 29, and I enjoyed sinus rhythm for 3 days!  A few days later, back to the ER.

Last week I had my first cardioversion and got to enjoy a nice, slow sinus rhythm for 2 days. Today marks my 6th day in Afib without a break. 

I was taking Toporol 50mg 2x a day, Flecainide 150mg 2x a day, and Eliquis 5mg 2x a day.  Now the doctor has stopped my Flecainide and Sunday I start taking 400mg Amiodarone 2x a day.

I've been reading up on Amiodarone, and I have to say I'm scared to start taking it.

Been lurking and reading posts, and just felt the need to vent a little! Thanks

 

chmayer avatar

Had bypass surgery in 2004. Relatively good condition up until now. I was walking frequently and heart rate elevated some (90-110). I would rest for a few minutes and all was fine again. Two weeks before a scheduled Stress Test. I had same elevation to about 105 with normal sinus rythm. During the stress test A-FIB. They said my heart was very strong. Was perscribed Eliquis with directions. I am 77,  BMI is 23, and take numerous suplements. Now I know what Afib feels like. I never had it before the test! Now anytime I do any physical labor or exercise I get afib and it takes about 20 minutes to an hour to recover to normal sinus rythm. My cardoligist was upset that I had been given the stress test.

My question is did (can) a stress test initiate/start afib???  What now? Looks like western medicine is doing its best to hurt me.

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