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Atrial Fibrillation - Symptom, Treatment And Causes

Last Updated: Apr 12, 2023

What is Atrial fibrillation?

Irregular beating of the heart is known as atrial fibrillation. It increases the incidences for heart disease and stroke. Fatigue, weakness and dizziness are all signs of an atrial fibrillation. Treating it requires lifestyle changes and medications and often procedures like ablation, cardioversion, and surgery or pacemaker placement. The heart has an abnormal functioning electrical system in atrial fibrillation. Other problems in health cause wearing out of the heart and makes it difficult for the cardio vascular system to perform at its best.

What can trigger atrial fibrillation?

Some of the triggers which can cause AFib are given below:

  • Fatigue and illness: Some of the most common triggers of AFib are recent surgery, physical illness, and sleep deprivation. If the body of the person is not functioning properly then it means that a person is suffering from stress. This can lead to abnormal activity in the heart.
  • Emotional triggers: The functioning of the body can be affected by the emotions as well. if a person is excited, extremely happy, anxious, or frightened it can make the heart race.
  • Hormones: In women, an AFib can be triggered by the normal fluctuations of the hormones. According to research, there is a strong connection between the Afib and hormonal fluctuations.
  • Medication: If a person is suffering from the condition of AFib then he/she should consult the doctor before taking consuming any over the counter medication. some of the medicines which can trigger AFib are nasal sprays, and cold medications.
  • Alcohol: It is one of the most common triggers of the AFib. If a person is in a habit of drinking then it must be avoided as it can have adverse effects. These symptoms can be experienced by just one drink.

What are the symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation?

A person suffering from the condition of AFib may experience the following signs and symptoms:

  • The ability of a person to exercise may reduce.
  • A person might experience pain in the chest.
  • There may be shortness of breath.
  • A person might experience dizziness.
  • There may be weakness and fatigue
  • A person might feel lightheadedness.
  • A person might experience palpitations.
  • There may be a sensation of heart racing or irregular heartbeat.

How can i check for AFib at home?

Here are a few techniques for detecting AFib at home:

  • Check the pulse: Take a 30-second pulse check by feeling for your pulse on your wrist or neck. Calculate your heart rate per minute by multiplying that number by two.If your heart rate is irregular or you notice skipped beats, it could be a sign of AFib.
  • Use a mobile app: There are numerous smartphone apps that assess heart rate variability and identify AFib using the camera on the device. Some examples include AliveCor and FibriCheck.
  • Use a portable EKG device: Portable EKG devices like KardiaMobile can be used to record your heart's electrical activity and detect AFib. Normally connected to your smartphone, these gadgets produce a report that may be given to your doctor.


How to diagnose AFib?

To diagnose whether a person is suffering from AFib or not a doctor might review the signs and symptoms being exhibited by the patient. The doctor may also take a look at the medical history of the patient. There are some tests that may be ordered by the doctor to confirm the diagnosis.

  • A doctor may ask a patient to undergo an electrocardiogram test (ECG).
  • Echocardiogram: in this test sound waves are sent for the creation of the pictures of the heart.
  • Chest x-ray: An image of the chest x-ray might help the doctor in diagnosing the condition of the lungs and the heart.
  • Stress test: this test may be ordered by the doctor to check the condition of the heart while running or exercising.
  • Blood test: a doctor may order some blood tests to rule out other complications that may have similar symptoms like that of AFib.

How is the condition treated?

Three main treatment types are available:

  • Treatments for slowing the heart rate
  • Treatments aimed at controlling the heart rhythm
  • Treatments for avoiding a stroke

Treatment for Stroke Prevention

Atrial fibrillation can become dangerous when the heartbeat isn’t steady or strong as blood might pool or collect in the atrium. Pooled blood has greater chances of forming clots. Clots can spread via the blood vessels to anywhere in the body, like the brain and lead to a stroke. A doctor can predict the likeliness for you to have a stroke by assessing your health and age. This can be of utmost importance for both your doctor and you to lower the risks.

What are the risk factors for atrial fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation risk factors include some of the following:

  • Age: Older persons, especially those over 60, are more likely to have AFib.
  • High blood pressure: A key risk factor for AFib is hypertension.
  • Heart disease: AFib risk is higher in people who have a history of heart disease, such as heart failure or coronary artery disease.
  • Obesity: Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of AFib.
  • Sleep apnea: AFib is more likely to develop in people who have sleep apnea.
  • Diabetes: Diabetes is a risk factor for AFib, particularly in women.
  • Family history: Your risk of acquiring AFib may be increased if a close relative suffers from the condition.
  • Alcohol consumption: Heavy drinking and binge drinking can increase the risk of AFib.
  • Smoking: Smoking raises your risk of developing AFib.
  • Chronic kidney disease: AFib risk is higher in people who have chronic kidney disease.

What is the best exercise for atrial fibrillation?

Best exercise for atrial fibrillation:

If a person is suffering from the condition of AFib then there are chances he/she may tire easily. A person who suffers from the condition of AFib must ensure that he/she stretches the muscles or does some reduced impact walking for a period of 10 minutes so that the heart can adjust to the activity. Once a person is warmed up then exercises like power walking, hiking, or jogging can be a good workout without any stress on the heart.

People suffering from the problem of AFib riding an exercise bike or using a treadmill are also considered safe exercises. People can also look for lifting light weights. For the persons suffering from AFib shorter exercise period of 5 to 10 minutes is good. The time for exercising should be increased gradually until a person reaches the level that is satisfying for him or her.

What are the side effects of treatments of artial fibrillation?

Depending on the type of therapy used to treat atrial fibrillation, there may be negative effects. Here are some potential side effects for common AFib treatments:

  • Medications: Common side effects of AFib medications include fatigue, nausea, dizziness, and increased risk of bleeding.
  • Electrical cardioversion: Electrical cardioversion may cause skin irritation, muscle aches, and a small risk of blood clots or stroke.
  • Catheter ablation: Possible side effects of catheter ablation include bleeding, infection, damage to the heart, and a small risk of stroke.
  • Surgery: Surgery for AFib may cause pain, bleeding, infection, and damage to surrounding tissue or organs.
  • Blood thinners: Blood thinners can increase the risk of bleeding, including the risk of bleeding in the brain.

What foods should be avoided with atrial fibrillation?

There are some foods that may be bad for the heart of the person. Consuming these foods makes a person susceptible to the appearance of the symptoms of AFib. Some of the foods which should be avoided with AFib are given below:

  • Alcohol: There have been studies that reveal that an episode of AFib can be triggered if a person suffering from the condition is diabetes or heart problem consumes alcohol moderately. Heavy drinking is very risky for such people.
  • Caffeine: People suffering from the condition of AFib should avoid caffeine products like soda, coffee, tea, and guarana. A person must be able to limit the intake of the caffeine to a cup of coffee.
  • Fat: Trans fats must be avoided at all costs as these are the most dangerous fats. People should avoid eating fried foods all the time. according to one of the studies a person who eats more polyunsaturated fats is at an increased risk of AFib.
  • Salt: Consuming salt in the right amounts can be very beneficial for the person suffering from the problem of AFib. Avoiding processed and frozen foods is also a good idea as they use a lot of salt in the form of preservatives.


In conclusion, atrial fibrillation is a common cardiac disorder that, if addressed, can result in major health issues. It can have a number of causes and exhibit symptoms such palpitations, tiredness, and shortness of breath. . Early diagnosis and treatment by a cardiologist can help manage symptoms and reduce the risk of complications such as stroke and heart failure.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which doctor should you consult for atrial fibrillation?

Consult a cardiologist for atrial fibrillation.

Which are the best medicines for atrial fibrillation?

There is no one "best" medication for atrial fibrillation as the choice of medication depends on the individual's medical history and other factors, so it is best to consult a doctor.

What is the price of atrial fibrillation treatments in India?

The cost of atrial fibrillation treatment in India can vary depending on the type of treatment, hospital, and location, ranging from around Rs. 10,000 for medications to several lakhs for procedures like catheter ablation.

What is the cause of atrial fibrillation?

Although the precise cause of atrial fibrillation is unknown, it can be brought on by conditions like high blood pressure, cardiac disease, and excessive alcohol or caffeine usage.

What are the warning signs of atrial fibrillation?

Some warning signs of atrial fibrillation include palpitations, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, dizziness or lightheadedness.

What does atrial fibrillation feel like?

Atrial fibrillation can feel like a fluttering or irregular heartbeat, palpitations, shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, dizziness or lightheadedness.

Is atrial fibrillation life threatening?

Atrial fibrillation itself is not typically life-threatening, but it can increase the risk of other serious medical conditions such as stroke and heart failure.

Does ECG show signs of atrial fibrillation?

Yes ,an ECG can detect signs of atrial fibrillation by measuring the electrical activity of the heart.

How do I test my self for atrial fibrillation.

It is not recommended to test yourself for atrial fibrillation, and it's best to consult a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

What is the heart rate for artial fibrillation on ECG?

The heart rate for atrial fibrillation on ECG is typically irregular and can range from 100 to 175 beats per minute or higher.

How long does it take for atrial fibrillation to go away?

The duration of atrial fibrillation episodes can vary, and it may go away on its own, or medical treatment may be necessary to restore a normal heart rhythm.


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Written ByDr. Rahul Gupta MD - Internal Medicine,MBBS,DM - Cardiology,Fellow European Society of CardiologyCardiology
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