Atrial Fibrillation

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

Atrial fibrillation facts

  • Atrial fibrillation is an abnormal rhythm of the heart.
  • Atrial fibrillation is caused by abnormal electrical discharges within the atria.
  • Atrial fibrillation reduces the ability of the atria to pump blood into the ventricles and usually causes the heart to beat too rapidly.
  • Symptoms of atrial fibrillation include palpitations, dizziness, fainting, weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath, and chest pain although some people have no symptoms.
  • 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 atrial fibrillation 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 atrial fibrillation, but medications may not be effective and may have intolerable side effects.
  • Electrical cardioversion is successful in over 95% of patients with atrial fibrillation, but 75% of patients have a recurrence of atrial fibrillation within 1 to 2 years.
  • Some doctors may leave patients in atrial fibrillation 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.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/30/2013

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Atrial Fibrillation - Effective Treatments Question: What kinds of treatments have been effective for your atrial fibrillation?
Atrial Fibrillation - Symptoms and Signs Question: What symptoms and signs did you experience with your atrial fibrillation?
Atrial Fibrillation - Complications Question: Describe the complications you've experienced with atrial fibrillation.
Atrial Fibrillation - Medications Question: What medications have you taken to treat atrial fibrillation?
Atrial Fibrillation - Procedures Question: Describe the procedures you've had to treat atrial fibrillation.

Atrial Fibrillation Treatment

Treatment for atrial fibrillation may include cardioversion, medication, ablation, surgery, or implantation of a pacemaker.

STAY INFORMED

Get the Latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!