Understanding Atrial Fibrillation


Atrial fibrillation, or afib, is an irregular and usually fast heart rhythm. The condition is linked to heart-related issues, including stroke, heart failure, and blood clots. When afib happens, the heart’s upper and lower chambers beat out of sync. Some people have no symptoms, while others can experience shortness of breath, weakness, and a pounding heart. There are various causes for afib, and some people are more at risk for developing the condition than others.

What Are Afib Symptoms?

The key to identifying and treating atrial fibrillation is recognizing its symptoms. Fortunately, sites like provide a detailed explanation of the issue, as well as a list of symptoms. These can include:

  • The feeling that the heart is fluttering or pounding
  • Fatigue
  • Light-headedness
  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Weakness
  • Decreased ability to exercise

Types of Atrial Fibrillation

Not everyone experiences the same afib symptoms, and they can present in various ways. For example, with occasional atrial fibrillation, symptoms come and go. They may last for a few minutes or hours, and the issue could occur repeatedly.

Patients can have persistent afib, in which the heart’s rhythm does not return to normal without treatment. Those with long-standing afib experience symptoms continuously and for longer than a year. A person who has permanent atrial fibrillation must take medications to control the heartbeat since the rhythm will not return to normal on its own.

Anyone who experiences an abnormal heart rhythm should consult their doctor. If symptoms include chest pains, it is critical to get help immediately since this can signal a heart attack.

Causes of Afib

The most common cause of afib is an issue with the heart’s structure. There is a range of issues that can lead to the condition, and they include:

  • A heart attack
  • Coronary heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • A problem with the heart’s pacemaker
  • Sleep apnea
  • Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
  • Heart valve issues

Common Risk Factors for Afib

Whether or not an individual develops afib can depend on various factors that include lifestyle choices and underlying health problems. Age is also a leading contributor since the chances of developing atrial fibrillation increases as patients get older.

Patients with heart disease, high blood pressure, or a history of heart attacks are more likely to develop the condition. People with thyroid, kidney, or lung disease are at risk, as are diabetics.

Drinking alcohol may be an afib trigger for some people, and obesity is a risk factor. Having a family history of afib increases the chances of developing the condition.

Prevention Is Possible

The best way to reduce heart disease risk and possibly avoid afib is to make healthy lifestyle choices. Living a heart-healthy life includes:

  • Eating a nutritious diet
  • Not smoking
  • Avoiding caffeine and alcohol
  • Maintaining a healthy weight and getting enough exercise
  • Managing stress, which can contribute to afib symptoms

Millions of people suffer from an afib, a condition that causes an irregular heart rhythm. Risk factors for the disease include underlying health conditions, lifestyle choices, and a family history of atrial fibrillation. Doctors can provide treatments that help control the heart’s rhythm, and patients can make heart-healthy lifestyle choices that reduce their chances of developing afib.


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