What is atrial fibrillation?

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Atrial fibrillation, also known as A-fib or AF, is one of the most common types of arrhythmias, which are irregular heart rhythms.

An arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat, is a problem with the rate or rhythm of your heartbeat. Your heart may beat too quickly, too slowly, or with an irregular rhythm.

It is normal for your heart rate to speed up during physical activity and to slow down while resting or sleeping. It is also normal to feel as if your heart skips a beat occasionally.

But a frequent irregular rhythm may mean that your heart is not pumping enough blood to your body. You may feel dizzy, faint, or have other symptoms.

Arrhythmias are treatable with medicine or procedures to control the irregular rhythms. If not treated, arrhythmias can damage the heart, brain, or other organs.

This can lead to life-threatening stroke, heart failure, or cardiac arrest.

Atrial fibrillation causes your heart to beat much faster than normal. Also, your heart’s upper and lower chambers do not work together as they should.

When this happens, the lower chambers do not fill completely or pump enough blood to your lungs and body.

This can make you feel tired or dizzy, or you may feel like your heart is skipping a beat, fluttering, pounding, or beating too hard or fast.

You may also feel chest pain. Blood may pool in your heart, which increases your risk of forming clots and can lead to strokes or other complications.

Atrial fibrillation can also occur without any symptoms. Untreated atrial fibrillation can lead to serious and even life-threatening complications.

Sometimes atrial fibrillation goes away on its own. For some people, atrial fibrillation is an ongoing heart problem that lasts for years.

Over time, it may happen more often and last longer. Treatment restores normal heart rhythms, helps control symptoms, and prevents complications.

Your doctor may recommend medicines, medical procedures, and lifestyle changes to treat your atrial fibrillation.

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