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
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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