Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)

Atrial fibrillation (also called AFib or AF) is an irregular, weak heartbeat that increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. When your heartbeat isn't strong and steady, blood can collect or pool in the upper chambers of the heart. Clots can then form and travel to the brain, the legs and other areas. In the brain, clots can block blood flow and cause a stroke.

Some people who have AFib don’t know they have it and don’t have symptoms. Others may experience:

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Heart palpitations (rapid, fluttering or pounding)
  • Lightheadedness
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain

How is atrial fibrillation diagnosed?

How is atrial fibrillation treated?

  • Medications to control the heart’s rhythm or thin the blood to prevent clots and a potential stroke
  • Cardioversion – a low-voltage electrical shock to return the heart to normal rhythm
  • Catheter ablation – destroys tiny areas in the heart that cause abnormal heart rhythm
  • LARIAT – uses a suture loop to tie off an appendage in the heart’s left atrial
  • Maze procedure – creates scar tissue to block excess electrical impulses from traveling through your heart
  • Pacemaker – a battery-powered device that sends electrical impulses to help the heart maintain a regular heartbeat

AFib increases a person’s risk for stroke by up to seven times compared to people who do not have AFib. So if you are experiencing symptoms, talk to a Mercy primary care doctor or heart specialist. Through our network of heart specialists and services, we can provide you with all the care you need – to live life to its fullest with a strong, healthy heart.

Knowing AFib

Download this infographic to learn more about atrial fibrillation. What it feels like, risk factors and how to avoid it.

Guide to Understanding AFib

Download our guide to better understand AFib and how to manage it.

AFib Symptom Tracker

Complete this short checklist to review with your doctor.

Resources

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