Older white man grabbing his chest

What are the signs and symptoms of AFib?

By Grazi Putnam, PharmD Sep 01, 2022 • 2 min

What are the symptoms of AFib?

Atrial fibrillation, also known as AFib or AF, is a type of irregular heartbeat caused by uncoordinated electrical signals in the heart, which are responsible for the contraction of the heart chambers. This unsynchronized contraction does not allow the chambers to fill with blood completely, leading to insufficient blood supply to the body. Consequently, patients may experience symptoms such as fatigue, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, low blood pressure, fainting and chest pains. However, it’s common for some patients to not have any symptoms at all.

Untreated AFib can lead to serious complications, such as blood clots, stroke and heart failure. If you are experiencing symptoms associated with AFib, contact your healthcare provider right away. Call 911 if you notice blood in your vomit, stool or urine, or if you experience severe vision changes, difficulty moving your legs or arms, or memory loss. These can be signs of serious complications.  

Factors that increase someone’s chances of having AFib include, among others, increasing age, having diabetes mellitussmoking, a family history of AFib, having a history of cardiovascular problems, such as hypertension, and a history of heart attacks and diseases involving the heart valves.

Some types of AFib may go away on their own, but there are different kinds of medications that can help treat the condition or prevent serious complications. If you think you may have AFib, a healthcare provider can help diagnose you and determine the best next steps for you. 

Clinically reviewed and updated by Nora Laberee, September 2022.

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