An estimated 2.7 million Americans are living with atrial fibrillation (also called AFib or AF), making it the most common heart rhythm abnormality.
Atrial fibrillation is an irregular and often rapid heart rate that commonly causes significant symptoms and increases the risk of stroke.
The heart is made up of four chambers. The upper chambers, called the atria, receive and collect blood as well as controlling the heart rhythm. The lower chambers, called the ventricles, pump blood to the body. Working together, the chambers of the heart move blood throughout the body.
In atrial fibrillation, the upper chambers of your heart experience chaotic electrical signals. As a result, they quiver instead of beating effectively. This causes a fast and irregular heart rhythm. The normal range for heart rate is 60 to 100 beats a minute. The heart rate in atrial fibrillation often reaches 175 beats a minute.
Atrial fibrillation may cause the following symptoms:
- Chest pressure or pain
- Fainting, also known as syncope, or near-syncope
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Palpitations, which can be skipping, fluttering or pounding in the chest
- Shortness of breath
There are ways to treat atrial fibrillation and the best treatment option will depend on you. You and your doctor will decide which one is your best option.