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
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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