Table of Contents
- Atrial fibrillation (AFib) facts
- What is the normal function of the heart?
- What is the electrical function of the heart?
- What causes atrial fibrillation?
- Heart rate during AFib
- What are the symptoms of atrial fibrillation (AFib)?
- What are the risk factors for developing atrial fibrillation (AFib)?
- How is atrial fibrillation (AFib) diagnosed?
- Heart monitors and other tests
- What is the treatment for atrial fibrillation (AFib)?
- Slowing the heart rate with medications
- Anticoagulation drugs to prevent blood clots and strokes
- Who are, and who are not candidates for warfarin?
- Newer medications to prevent stroke in AFib
- Cardioversion with medications
- Other methods of converting AFib to a normal rhythm
- Risks and candidates for cardioversion
- Procedures for treating and preventing atrial fibrillation (AFib)
- Other procedures for treating and preventing atrial fibrillation
- What are the complications of atrial fibrillation (AFib)?
- What is pulmonary vein isolation?
- Who are candidates for PVI, and what are the risks?
Atrial Fibrillation Symptoms and Signs
Symptoms of atrial fibrillation occur when the upper chambers of the heart (atria) beat in a disorganized fashion. Atrial fibrillation is a type of arrhythmia. Characteristic symptoms include:
- shortness of breath,
- palpitations, and
Other symptoms of atrial fibrillation are:
- confusion, and
- a reduced tolerance for exercise.
Quick GuideAtrial Fibrillation: Heart Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment for AFib
Atrial fibrillation (AFib) facts
- Atrial fibrillation (also referred to as AFib) is the most common type of abnormal heart rhythm.
- AFib is caused by abnormal electrical discharges (signals) that generate chaotically throughout the upper chambers of the heart (atria).
- AFib reduces the ability of the atria to pump blood into the ventricles, and usually causes the heart to beat too rapidly.
- One-half million new cases of atrial fibrillation are diagnosed every year in the U.S., and billions of dollars are spent annually on its diagnosis and treatment.
- Symptoms of atrial fibrillation include:
- Complications of atrial fibrillation include heart failure and stroke.
- Atrial fibrillation can be diagnosed by physical examination, electrocardiogram, Holter monitor, or patient-activated event recorder.
- Treatment of AFib is directed toward controlling underlying causes, slowing the heart rate and/or converting the heart to normal rhythm, and stroke prevention using blood-thinning medications.
- Medications are commonly used in the longer term to control or prevent recurrence of AFib, but medications may not be effective and may have intolerable side effects.
- Electrical cardioversion is successful in over 95% of patients with AFib, but 75% of patients have a recurrence of AFib within 1 to 2 years.
- Some doctors may leave patients in AFib for the longer term provided the heart rate is under control, blood flow is adequate, and blood is adequately thinned with medications.
- Non-medication treatments of atrial fibrillation include pacemakers, AV node ablation, atrial defibrillators, and the Maze procedure.
- Pulmonary vein isolation shows promise for the treatment of atrial fibrillation and has a high rate of success; however, longer-term experience is necessary. Continue Reading
UpToDate. Patient information: Atrial fibrillation (Beyond the Basics).
Wann, Samuel L., et al. "2011 ACCF/AHA/HRS focused update on the management of patients with atrial fibrillation (Updating the 2006 Guideline): a report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines." Journal of the American College of Cardiology 57.2 (2011): 223-242.
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