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Other Conditions With Symptoms Similar to Atrial Fibrillation


Other Conditions With Symptoms Similar to Atrial Fibrillation

Pinpointing the exact cause of your lightheadedness, palpitations, and chest pain can be extremely hard. For example, after a rigorous workout, you may feel these exact sensations yet have no arrhythmia of any kind. Your doctor may ask you the following questions:

  • How severe are your palpitations?
  • Did the palpitations have a consistent pattern?
  • Did you feel like fainting?
  • Did you have chest pain?
  • Did you have general discomfort?

Although answers to these questions will not provide your doctor with enough information to reach a complete diagnosis, they do allow your doctor to consider several illnesses more specifically. The table below provides information on which conditions cause symptoms similar to atrial fibrillation and how they cause symptoms.

Other conditions with similar symptoms

Symptom

Other condition

How it causes the symptom

Tests used to diagnose

Palpitations

Anxiety disorder: Extreme nervousness or anxiety for no apparent reason

Other fast heart rhythms, such as supraventricular or ventricular tachycardias

Stress triggers the release of the hormone adrenaline, causing a rise in heart rate.

  • EKG, ECG
  • Holter monitor

Chest pain (angina)

Coronary artery disease: A hard, waxy substance (plaque) that develops in the coronary arteries, reducing the supply of oxygenated blood to the heart muscle

Because the passage through which the blood flows is narrower, oxygen is prevented from reaching the heart muscle. This causes pain or pressure in the chest (angina).

  • Stress test
  • Coronary angiography

Fatigue

Poor physical conditioning: Being out of shape

Performing physical activity that you are unaccustomed to can cause general fatigue.

  • Blood test
  • Stress test

Other conditions:

  • Anemia
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Hormonal changes
  • Low blood sugar

Lightheadedness

Dehydration

Blood loss

Decreased blood flow to the brain

  • Blood test
  • Comparing blood pressures standing and lying down

Passing out (syncope)

Ventricular tachycardia or another arrhythmia

Seizure

Decreased amount of blood reaches the brain.

  • EKG, ECG
  • EEG

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerJohn M. Miller, MD - Electrophysiology
Last RevisedNovember 2, 2010

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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