Fluttering. Quivering. Dizziness. Shortness of breath. Chest pain. If you are among the millions of people who have atrial fibrillation (AFib), you know all too well how frightening and uncomfortable these symptoms can be.
AFib is an irregular and often rapid heart rate that can increase your risk of strokes, heart failure and other heart-related complications. Although AFib itself usually isn’t life-threatening, it is a serious medical condition that sometimes requires emergency treatment.
Symptoms of AFib
Some people with AFib have no symptoms and are unaware of their condition until it’s discovered during a physical examination or check-up. Those who do have AFib symptoms may experience signs and symptoms including:
• Palpitations (sensations of a racing, uncomfortable, irregular heartbeat or a “flip-flopping” in the chest)
• Reduced ability to exercise
• Shortness of breath
• Chest pain
Types of AFib
Episodes of AFib may come and go, or you may develop atrial fibrillation that doesn’t go away and may require treatment. AFib may be:
Also known as paroxysmal (par-of-SIZ-mul) atrial fibrillation. Symptoms come and go, usually lasting for a few minutes to hours. In some instances, symptoms may occur for as long as a week and episodes can happen repeatedly. Symptoms might go away on their own or treatment may be needed.
Heart rhythm doesn’t go back to normal on its own. Persistent atrial fibrillation requires treatment such as an electrical shock or medications in order to restore heart rhythm.
This type of AFib is continuous and lasts longer than 12 months.
In this type of AFib, the abnormal heart rhythm cannot be restored. Patients living with permanent atrial fibrillation require medications to control their heart rate and to prevent blood clots.
• Blood thinners to prevent blood clots/strokes
• Heart rate-controlling medications
• A minimally invasive procedure called atrial fibrillation which has the best success at controlling arrhythmia.
• Electrical cardioversion: electrical shock (using paddles or patches) outside the chest to reset the heart’s rhythm.
Cardiology Cardiovascular/Thoracic Surgery