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Atrial fibrillation, known as AF or Afib, is an irregular, rapid heart rate that may cause symptoms like heart palpitations, fatigue, and shortness of breath. AF occurs when the upper chambers of the heart (atria) beat out of rhythm. As a result, blood is not pumped efficiently to the rest of the body, causing an unusually fast heart rate, quivering, or thumping sensations in the heart.
Not only can AF negatively impact your quality of life, but those who have AF are five to seven times more likely to form blood clots and suffer a stroke. Fortunately, AF may be treated with medication, cardioversion (a surgical procedure), or a catheter ablation procedure.
If left untreated, AF as a disease continues to progress. There are three types of AF:
Some people experience these symptoms of atrial fibrillation:
You may have no symptoms but still be diagnosed with AF at a doctor's appointment. Even without symptoms, AF is a serious medical condition. Treating AF may prevent stroke, fatigue, and heart failure.
The causes of AF are often unclear. In some cases, AF may be the result of:
People with otherwise normal hearts may also develop AF.
To help prevent atrial fibrillation, some risk factors may be controlled or modified.
|Controllable Risk Factors|
|Non-controllable Risk Factors|
Detecting atrial fibrillation and quantifying it can be challenging. Your doctor may use one or more of the following tests to determine if you have atrial fibrillation:
Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.