What're the symptoms of atrial fibrillation?
Atrial fibrillation often causes no symptoms at all. When symptoms do occur, there may be palpitations (awareness of a rapid heartbeat), fainting, dizziness, weakness, shortness of breath and angina pectoris (chest pain caused by a reduced
blood supply to the heart muscle). Some people with atrial fibrillation have periods of completely normal heartbeats.
The condition may be discovered incidentally, when a physician notices that the patient’s heart rate is no longer regular. Sometimes, the development of shortness of breath or of fatigue compels a patient to seek medical attention. Unfortunately, some patients do not see a doctor until they have suffered a stroke.
Blood may "back up" into the lungs, resulting in the accumulation of fluid. This interferes with normal absorption of oxygen from the lungs into the bloodstream, which can lead to the sensation of shortness of breath. Some patients notice this when they exercise or exert themselves. Others notice it when they lie down at night and find they must sleep with their head elevated to avoid waking up short of breath. Fluid can accumulate in the feet, ankles, legs, and sometimes the abdomen as well, causing swelling (edema).
Also, when the amount of blood being pumped throughout the body decreases, the patient may experience fatigue. When too little blood reaches the brain, the patient may experience lightheadedness or fainting. When contractions become very rapid, sometimes 200 per minute, the patient experiences palpitations.
More information on atrial fibrillation
What is atrial fibrillation (AF)? - Atrial fibrillation (AF) is an electrical rhythm disturbance of the heart affecting the atria. Atrial fibrillation is the most common form of irregular heartbeat.
What causes atrial fibrillation? - Atrial fibrillation is associated with many cardiac conditions, including cardiomyopathy, coronary artery disease, valvular heart disease.
What're the symptoms of atrial fibrillation? - Symptoms of atrial fibrillation include palpitations, fainting, dizziness, weakness, shortness of breath and angina pectoris.
What're the complications of atrial fibrillation? - The most devastating complication of atrial fibrillation occurs when a blood clot forms in the left atrium and is pumped to the brain.
How is atrial fibrillation diagnosed? - The diagnosis of atrial fibrillation includes a medical history and physical examination, an electrocardiogram (ECG), and an echocardiogram.
What's the treatment for atrial fibrillation? - Treatment for atrial fibrillation depends on the underlying cause. A highly effective, safe treatment for atrial fibrillation is still an unmet medical need.