What is Atrial fibrillation?

(Also called: AF, a-fib)


Atrial fibrillation is a quivering or irregular, often rapid heartbeat (arrhythmia) that commonly causes poor blood flow. The heart's upper chambers (atria) beat out of coordination with the lower chambers (ventricles). Afib can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. At least 2.7 million Americans are living with AFib.

Here’s how patients have described their experience:
“My heart flip-flops, skips beats, and feels like it’s banging against my chest wall, especially if I’m carrying stuff up my stairs or bending down.”

“I was nauseated, light-headed, and weak. I had a really fast heartbeat and felt like I was gasping for air.”

“I had no symptoms at all. I discovered my AF at a regular check-up. I’m glad we found it early.”


This heart condition requires a medical diagnosis and may have no symptoms; but when symptoms do appear they include palpitations, shortness of breath, and fatigue.

People may experience:

  • Pain areas: in the chest
  • Whole body: dizziness, fatigue, inability to exercise, or weakness
  • Heart: fast heart rate or palpitations
  • Also common: shortness of breath


The most common method of diagnosis of Atrial Fibrillation is an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG). Even though an irregular pulse or feeling of heart palpitations can suggest atrial fibrillation, the electrical activity of the heart captured by an ECG is the best way to diagnose the AFib.


Treatment consists of blood thinners and beta blockers and can include:

  • Minimally invasive surgery (ablation)
  • Medications: Beta blocker, Calcium channel blocker, Antiarrhythmic, and Anticoagulant
  • Supportive care
  • Cox maze procedure and Mini maze procedure


  • Cardiologist: Specializes in heart disorders
  • Electrophysiologist: A specialist in the electrical system of the heart and the treatment of heart arrhythmias

For informational purposes only. Consult your local medical authority for advice.
Sources: Mayo Clinic, American Heart Association, and others
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