Symptoms and Signs of Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)

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Medically Reviewed on 8/4/2021

Doctor's Notes on Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)

Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia) that causes the atrial chambers of the heart to beat rapidly. Signs and symptoms of atrial fibrillation (also termed A fib, AFib, A-fib) may include

The cause of atrial fibrillation is due to multiple sources of impulses in the atria that travel through the atria at the same time and cause irregular usually rapid contractions of the atria that are not correlated with ventricular contractions although ventricular contractions are also frequently increased. Other cardiac conditions may eventually cause atrial fibrillation (for example, heart valve disease, ventricular hypertrophy, coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, advancing age and others).

Other causes that may trigger atrial fibrillation symptoms include overactive thyroid, alcohol use, pulmonary embolism, and pneumonia.

What Are the Treatments for AFib?

The treatments for AFib attempt to slow your heartbeat and/or restore a normal cardiac rhythm and prevent clots. The following represent some of the numerous drugs used:

Other procedures can be tried if drugs do not work well. They are as follows:

  • Electrical cardioversion
  • Catheter ablation (radiofrequency or cryoablation)
  • Surgical ablation (Maze procedure or Mini Maze)
  • Pacemaker (when the AV node is ablated, device generates electric pulses that make the heart beat)

Your doctor will suggest the best treatments for your AFib problem.

Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib) : Test Your Medical IQ Quiz

Atrial Fibrillation Quiz

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.