Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation (also called AFib) is an irregular, weak heartbeat that increases the risk of heart disease, heart failure 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.

What Causes AFib?

An irregular and rapid heart rate can be caused by your age, genetic makeup or other health conditions, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • High blood pressure
  • Lung diseases
  • Viral infections
  • Sleep apnea
  • Overactive thyroid gland

Symptoms of AFib

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

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

How is AFib Diagnosed?

How is AFib 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 five times compared to people who do not have AFib. So if you are experiencing symptoms, schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor or find a 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.

Guide to Understanding AFib

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

Knowing AFib

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

Resources

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