What is atrial fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is the most common type of arrhythmia and happens when the electrical impulses in your atria become disorganised, which overrides your heart’s normal rate and rhythm. This causes your atria to contract in an irregular manner or ‘fibrillate’. You may notice that your heartbeat feels uneven and it may be faster than usual. Attacks of atrial fibrillation can last from a few seconds to over a week, and can cause symptoms including:
• palpitations – an unpleasant awareness of your heartbeat, often described as a thumping in your chest
• tiredness – not being able to do as much physical activity as usual
• breathlessness
dizziness or fainting
chest pain


Atrial fibrillation can potentially lead to a blood clot forming in your heart – this is because your blood isn’t able to flow through properly. If a clot forms, it may travel to your brain and cause a stroke.
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Related Questions

What is atrial fibrillation a symptom of?

It depends. Atrial fibrillation is an irregular rhythm in which the atria beat at nearly 400 beats/min. It is common in older patients as a reflection of aging of the conduction system. In younger patients it can be caused by alcohol and drug abuse. It can also occur when the heart dilates as in congestive heart failure. The abnormal contractions put patients at risk for blood clots which may cause strokes. Read more...
It isn't . It isn't a symptom but an irregular heart beat that can be brought on by other heart problems, thyroid disease, high blood pressure, genetics, and many other causes, many of which we are just beginning to understand. Read more...

What does atrial fibrillation feel like in a person?

Various symptoms. Symptoms vary from patient to patient. Some patients have no symptoms at all. Possible symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations, and sweating. Read more...
It Depends. Atrial fibrillation feels different to different people. It makes the heartbeat irregular so many feel thumping or pounding in the chest. The cardiac output drops, so many feel fatigued, tired, or unable to perform as much physical activity as they used to. In extreme cases, it can lead to sensations that you will pass out. Read more...

How to know what is atrial fibrillation and is it serious?

See a doctor . Af is the commonest heart rhythm disturbance in humans. In af, the top chambers (atria) twitter and twitch instead of pumping normally. Af can be serious for some patients, but not for all. Please see your doctor, preferably a cardiologist, ideally an electrophysiologist, and they'll help you sort it out. Read more...
Atrial fibrillation. Afib is a rapid irregular heart rhythm which can decrease heart efficiency as much as 20% in some patients. It can also be associated with clotting and clots travelling around the body to cause stroke or other problems. Some people have atrial fibrillation as their normal rhythm. Talk to your dr. About it if you have it. Read more...