What Is Atrial Fibrillation? Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention | Healthcarthub

Atrial fibrillation (AF or afib) is a kind of heart rhythm disorder, or arrhythmia. It causes your heart to conquer irregularly and may considerably boost the heartbeat, resulting in your heart’s lower and upper chambers no longer working together correctly, based on the National Heart, Lung, and Bloodstream Institute. (1)

Afib begins within the upper chambers of the heart, referred to as atria. Fibrillation describes an immediate, irregular heartbeat.

While an ordinary resting heartbeat is 60 to 100 bpm (bpm), atrial fibrillation may cause your atria to conquer 300 to 600 occasions each minute, per the Cleveland Clinic. (2)

Atrial fibrillation can result in numerous signs and symptoms, including fatigue, dizziness, chest discomfort, difficulty breathing, and a pounding heart. However, in certain people, the problem doesn’t cause any signs and symptoms.

Whether or not or otherwise it causes signs and symptoms, afib can place you at greater risk for any stroke. Consequently, it’s vital that you get strategy to afib and manage your problem to try and prevent harmful complications. (1)

Signs and Signs and symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation causes noticeable signs and symptoms in lots of people, however, many experience no signs and symptoms whatsoever.

Should you choose experience signs and symptoms, they might include: (1,3)

  • A pounding heart (racing or pounding heart, noticeably irregular heartbeat)
  • Chest discomfort
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Reduced capability to exercise
  • Breathlessness, especially while laying lower or during activity
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Lightheadedness

Your signs and symptoms may vary from subtle to very noticeable, plus they may change with time.

The timing and information on your signs and symptoms could be vital that you strengthen your physician identify and treat your afib. It’s vital that you keep an eye on your signs and symptoms by noting once they occur, how lengthy they last, how severe they’re, and just what you had been doing once they began. (1)

Causes and Risks of Atrial Fibrillation

Having a normal heartbeat, the 2 upper chambers of the heart (referred to as atria) electrically activate and contract, then your two lower chambers (ventricles) perform the same.

This enables your atria to function bloodstream to your ventricles, as well as for your ventricles to function bloodstream for your lung area (right side) and all of your body (left side).

In atrial fibrillation, a variety of electrical impulses happen all at one time inside your atria, which in turn causes extremely fast and disorganized contractions. What this means is your atria can’t pump bloodstream effectively to your ventricles.

Due to the disorganized electrical impulses that come from your atria, your ventricles may also contract very rapidly and irregularly. Consequently, it normally won’t pump bloodstream as effectively for your body. (2)

Lots of people with afib come with an underlying heart problem and have possessed a past event which has altered the heart’s electrical or mechanical function. These conditions include: (3)

  • High bloodstream pressure
  • Heart valve disease
  • Coronary heart (CAD)
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Heart surgery
  • Hereditary heart defects
  • Other health problems can also increase the chance of developing afib, including: (1,3)
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Diabetes
  • Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
  • Lung illnesses
  • Weight problems
  • Sarcoidosis (inflammatory ailment that affects organs)
  • Anti snoring
  • Venous thromboembolism (bloodstream clot)
  • Infections

In certain individuals with afib, a reason isn’t identified.

Some factors you cannot control could raise the chance of developing afib, such as the following:

  • Older age (especially 65 or older)
  • Genealogy of afib
  • European ancestry
  • Certain facets of your way of life might also lead to afib, for example: (1)
  • Consuming alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Using recreational stimulant drugs (for example cocaine)
  • Extreme exercise
  • Insufficient exercise
  • Stress

How’s Atrial Fibrillation Diagnosed?

Your physician will identify or eliminate afib according to:

Your signs and symptoms and health background

An actual exam


Additionally to asking regarding your signs and symptoms, your physician will most likely inquire regarding your genealogy of heart disease, your dieting and exercise habits, along with other risks for cardiovascular disease.

In case your physician suspects you have afib or any other serious heart problem, you will probably undergo a test of the heart and lung area.

Within this examination, your physician will:

Pay attention to your heartbeat and breathing

Look at your pulse (heartbeat)

Measure your bloodstream pressure

Look for swelling inside your legs and ft (possible indications of heart failure or perhaps an enlarged heart)

Search for indications of hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), just like an enlarged thyroid (1)

To assist identify atrial fibrillation, your physician may order numerous tests. Many of these tests are made to evaluate your heart rhythm or heartbeat inside a specific way.

Tests for diagnosing afib can include:

Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) This test involves putting on sensors in your chest and arms to record the electrical activity of the heart.

An ECG may be the primary test for diagnosing afib. It is possible inside your doctor’s office within minutes, as well as your physician will often have the ability to evaluate your results immediately.

Holter Monitor This is a kind of portable ECG. It calls for putting on sensors that connect with a tool, that you simply carry in your wallet or put on mounted on a shoulder strap.

A Holter monitor records your heart’s activity, most generally for twenty-four to 48 hrs, giving your physician a far more truth of the heart rhythm.

Event Recorder or Ambulatory Telemetry Monitor They are other kinds of portable ECGs which are typically worn for any considerably longer period, from the couple of days to some month.

If you experience signs and symptoms that could indicate a quick or irregular heartbeat, you push a control button around the recorder that activates its data storage function. A couple of minutes of the heart’s electrical activity, both pre and post you press the button, will be stored.

Echocardiogram It is really an ultrasound of the heart, which utilizes seem waves to produce a video image for the physician to evaluate.

Your physician or any other doctor holds a tool known as a transducer over your chest, which both transmits and receives seem waves because they bounce off your heart. You will not feel these seem waves.

Less generally, your physician may recommend an echocardiogram which involves inserting an adaptable tube that contains a small transducer lower your throat. This is whats called a transesophageal echocardiogram.

This kind of echocardiogram can establish more in depth pictures of your heart, which might strengthen your physician identify thrombus or any other problems.

Bloodstream Tests Your physician may order bloodstream tests to check on for thyrois issues or any other problems that could lead to afib.

Chest X-Ray Your physician may order an X-ray of the heart and lung area to check on for other concerns that could be causing or adding for your signs and symptoms. (2,3)

Prognosis of Atrial Fibrillation

While atrial fibrillation is definitely considered a significant condition, often it resolves by itself and doesn’t result in any complications.

In the other finish from the spectrum, atrial fibrillation might be permanent and resistant against treatment, resulting in a bad risk of significant complications.

If you are identified as having afib, your outlook may rely on known or suspected causes, how frequently you have it, and whether or not this causes noticeable signs and symptoms. (1)