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
Nightsky avatar

Hello All, Great site! Just read a lot of info that I find very helpful. I have always had the "storm in my chest" feeling as long as I can rememner (I am 61) but never came out to be AFib until today....bittersweet I guess. My Cadio mentioned Elequis and come back in a Month, then he wants to do some sort of "shock" treatment at the Hospital, sounds like I am medicated and then like a defibralator, my heart is shocked "back into sync" and he says this has a pretty good sucess rate. 

I didn't see anything about it here....I mentioned abilation, he said he wanted to do this first. He also gave me a brochure on the "Watchman" from Boston Scientific, which is basically a strainer/fill plug that takes up the space where the blood pools and also has a good sucess rate? Anyone had either of these proceedures done? 

Thanks for your time, look forward to responses. By the way I am a CPAP user (very compliant) and a bit overweight, light coffee drinker (1 a day), non-smoker and no drugs or alcohol, diabetic type 2 with a pump, under control. 

 

Nesshan avatar

Last Wednesday I woke up and was sitting in bed. I felt my heart beating oddly and after that my chest felt uncomfortable, I told my sister how I was feeling and at that point my heart started beating really fast. I thought I was having a heart attack and was about to die. 

Sister took me to the ER where they checked my pulse and put me on an IV I hadn't been told what it was until I was moved to the Hospital, I wasn't allowed to walk and then I was told that I was in AFib. 

Later that night a nurse said I "converted" and all was well. 

The next day I had a ultrasound on my heart done and etc.

The doctors didn't mention anything bad going on and explained that I had AFib probably because of sleep apnea and being overweight. He told me I should work on losing weight and eating better to fix it.

I'm on Eliquis and Diltiazem, I wasn't told how long but was told I shouldn't run out of Eliquis. 

I'm still terrified of havhav that happen again and I have no one else to talk to about this. 

After having AFib and converting, and being on this medication. What are the possobiliposs of having to experience that again ? I'm trying to exercise more but I'm scared of something happening again.

njm5876 avatar

My husband was recently diagnosed with paroxysmal Afib ( March 2019)  He is scheduled for ablation July 15. Husband's normal resting HR is 50-60 --highest with Afib episode was 168.  His symptoms were some chest pressure, heart flip-flopping with fatigue.

  EP doc had him start taking Multaq for 2 weeks, no help at all.  He changed him to Sotalol 6 days ago. His HR is now down in the low 40's possibly lower as the monitor we have at home doesn't register lower than 40.  He has been exhausted since starting Sotalol- he takes 160 mg/day.  It has caused him some stomach related issues - I have noticed some shortness of breath - more fatigued than before.  He actually seems to be feeling worse on the meds than without. He is to go tomorrow to have an EKG -I am hoping he will let them know how he has been feeling the last week.  The husband has been down in the dumps and grumpy since taking Sotalol.  

EP says he also has tachy-brady syndrome..but says we need to tackle the AFib before the bradycardia.  

I think he needs to come off the Sotalol but since I am not a medical pro I may have it wrong.  I just want something to help him to feel better NOT make him worse.

Thanks for listening!! 

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