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

afibsurvivor avatar

Hi Everyone,

A little background about me, I have one ablation under my belt, but I still have mild spells of afib or tachycardia.

I went to the docs office and he recommends a loop recorded to capture those mild spells for a better diagnosis.

Im ok with this but my mom and girlfriend dont like the idea, because they think my symptoms are mild.

Anyone else have a story about how a loop recorder helped them?

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

 

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