Atrial fibrillation is also known as AFIB. This is when your heartbeat becomes fast, irregular and out of sync.
If this happens, you can feel unwell and scared.
It’s important to be aware of AFIB symptoms, and know when to contact your doctor. Keep reading to find out more.
What Is AFIB?
AFIB happens when the heart beats out of co-ordination.
The heart is divided into four different sections. The two upper chambers, called the atria, work with the two lower chambers, named the ventricles. These four sections work together to pump blood around the body.
If someone has AFIB, the two upper chambers beat irregularly. They lose coordination with the lower two chambers.
AFIB is a serious medical condition that should be taken seriously. It can increase your risk of blood clots, strokes, heart failure, and other health complications. You can find out more about the dangers of AFIB here.
AFIB requires medical attention and may lead to further treatment to manage the condition.
Symptoms of AFIB
Some people may have AFIB but not display any symptoms. The condition may only be discovered during another medical exam.
However, many people with AFIB do experience a range of symptoms. These can help lead to diagnosis and treatment.
One of the most common symptoms of AFIB is heart palpitations. This is when you feel like your heartbeat is racing, irregular and uncomfortable. It can feel like fluttering or quivering in your chest.
Other common symptoms include weakness, fatigue, and confusion. You may also experience light-headedness, dizziness, shortness of breath, and sweating.
Chest pain is another possible AFIB symptom. However, if you do experience chest pain, it could be a symptom of an urgent medical situation. It is important to contact a medical professional or emergency services straight away.
Different Types of AFIB
There are different types of AFIB, depending on how long you experience symptoms.
Paroxysmal AFIB is when your heartbeat returns to its normal rhythm without medical intervention within 7 days. Symptoms may only last a few minutes, or they could last for the entire week. This may only happen a couple of times a year, or it could happen for a few minutes every day.
Persistent AFIB is when your heart beats irregularly for more than 7 days. Your heartbeat cannot go back to normal on its own and requires medical treatment.
With long-standing AFIB, your irregular heartbeat is continuous. It also lasts for longer than 12 months.
Permanent AFIB is when your normal heart rhythm cannot be restored. The condition is indefinite, and medical intervention has failed to return the heart to its normal rhythm.
Are You at Higher Risk of AFIB?
Some people are more at risk of AFIB than others.
People who are at higher risk include people who are older or have high blood pressure. Those with a family history of AFIB, previous heart surgery, or other heart conditions are also at a higher risk of developing AFIB.
If a person is obese or experiences alcoholism, the likelihood of AFIB is increased. Those with other health conditions such as diabetes, lung disease, chronic kidney disease, and thyroid problems are also at a higher risk of developing AFIB.
When To See a Doctor
If you experience any of the AFIB symptoms listed, then you may have AFIB. It’s important to make an appointment with your doctor to discuss what you are experiencing.
Your doctor may monitor your heart to decide if you have AFIB.
They may order an electrocardiogram. This is a quick and painless test. You lie down for a few minutes while electrodes are placed onto your chest. This monitors the electrical activity in your heart.
Your doctor may also send you home with a heart monitor. This is a portable electrocardiogram that you wear for a few days. It measures your heart over this time and can detect any irregular heartbeats or episodes.
If you are experiencing chest pain, contact emergency services immediately. This may be a symptom of a more urgent medical issue.
AFIB Symptoms and Diagnosis
AFIB is a serious medical condition that may require treatment. If you are experiencing any symptoms, it’s important to talk to your doctor.
If you are diagnosed with AFIB, you can then discuss treatment options with a medical professional.
While you’re here, take a look at some more of our health information to keep yourself safe and healthy.