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The Signs & Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation

Man concerned about abnormal heart beat rhythmHave you ever had the sensation like your heart was racing or fluttering a little, even though you weren’t doing anything physical or stressful? For those people with a normal heart, this is usually an isolated incident. However, it could also be the sign of an underlying heart condition known as atrial fibrillation.

Atrial fibrillation or AFib is actually a common form of heart arrhythmia. The smaller chambers of the heart (the atria), that are responsible for pumping blood into the larger ventricles, will quiver randomly and rapidly from AFib. The quivering keeps the atria from pumping blood into the ventricles effectively. This is what creates that rapid and irregular heartbeat that patients will experience.

Common Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation

If a person has atrial fibrillation essentially does not beat as efficiently as it is designed to. In some cases, the heart may not be able to pump out enough blood for the rest of the body without the help of these treatments.

Unfortunately, there are some people who have atrial fibrillation, but they never experience any accompanying symptoms from their condition. In fact, they may be totally unaware of their condition until their doctor discovers it during a routine physical examination. For the patients who do experience atrial fibrillation symptoms, these can include:

  • Heart Palpitations, which can be described as an uncomfortable, racing, irregular heartbeat, or even a flopping sensation in the chest
  • Weakness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Confusion
  • Lightheadedness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain in the chest

AFib Severity

As with many other medical conditions, atrial fibrillation can range in severity from patient to patient. Your AFib could be:

  • Occasional AFib: This is also referred to as paroxysmal (par-ok-SIZ-mul) atrial fibrillation. Patients might experience some AFib symptoms that alternate on and off. These symptoms could last for as little as a few minutes to full hours, and then they stop on their own.
  • Chronic AFib: For patients with a chronic case of atrial fibrillation, the rhythm of their heart is always abnormal.

Time to Seek Medical Attention

If you believe that you or a loved one has been experiencing the symptoms of atrial fibrillation, it would be a good idea to schedule an appointment with your doctor. Following a physical examination, your doctor will be able to tell you if the symptoms you are experiencing are due to atrial fibrillation or some other heart condition.

If you suddenly start to experience unusual chest pain, please do not hesitate to contact emergency medical assistance. This is very important, as that chest pain could signal the onset of a heart attack.