» How is Fibrillation Diagnosed?     » Key Points of Atrial Fibrillation     » Home

Key Points of Atrial Fibrillation

Below are the Key Points of Atrial Fibrillation

  • Atrial fibrillation (Atrial Fibrillation) is the most common type of arrhythmia. An arrhythmia is a problem with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat.

  • Atrial Fibrillation occurs when rapid, disorganized electrical signals cause the atria to fibrillate (contract very fast and irregularly). When this happens, the heart's upper and lower chambers don't work together as they should.

  • Often, people who have Atrial Fibrillation may not feel symptoms. However, even when not noticed, Atrial Fibrillation can increase the risk of stroke. In many people, Atrial Fibrillation can cause chest pain or heart failure, particularly when the heart rhythm is rapid.

  • The three types of Atrial Fibrillation are paroxysmal (the Atrial Fibrillation comes and goes), persistent (the Atrial Fibrillation continues until stopped with treatment), and permanent (a normal heart rhythm can't be restored).

  • Certain conditions, such as coronary heart disease or problems with the heart's structure, can lead to Atrial Fibrillation. Other conditions, such as obesity and high blood pressure, make it more likely that an episode of Atrial Fibrillation will happen.

  • More than 2 million people in the United States have Atrial Fibrillation. It's affects both men and women. The risk of Atrial Fibrillation increases as you age.

  • Signs and symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation include palpitations, shortness of breath, weakness or difficulty exercising, chest pain, dizziness or fainting, fatigue (tiredness), or confusion.

  • Atrial Fibrillation has two major complications—stroke and heart failure. In Atrial Fibrillation, blood pools in the atria and isn't pumped completely into the ventricles. As a result, blood clots can form in the atria. A stroke can occur if a blood clot in the atria breaks off and travels through the bloodstream to the brain. Heart failure can occur because the heart isn't able to function well and pump enough blood to the rest of the body.

  • Doctors diagnose Atrial Fibrillation using medical and family histories, a physical exam, and tests and procedures. The most useful test for diagnosing Atrial Fibrillation is an EKG (electrocardiogram).

  • Treatment for Atrial Fibrillation depends on how severe or frequent the symptoms are and whether you already have heart disease. General treatment options include medicines, medical procedures, and lifestyle changes.

  • You may be able to prevent Atrial Fibrillation by following a heart healthy lifestyle and taking steps to lower your risk of heart disease, such as following a healthy diet, not smoking, getting physical activity regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight.

  • People who have Atrial Fibrillation can live normal, active lives. For some people, treatment can cure Atrial Fibrillation and return their heartbeats to normal rhythms. For people who have permanent Atrial Fibrillation, treatment can successfully control heart condition symptoms and prevent complications.