What Is Atrial Fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation is the most common form of arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat.

Heart Health

By definition, atrial fibrillation involves a problematic heart rate or rhythm. September is Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month, and a good time to learn about this, the most common form of arrhythmia.

Q: What causes atrial fibrillation?
A: Atrial fibrillation is the result of damage to the heart’s electrical system, most often caused by high blood pressure, lung disease, heart disease, sleep apnea, an overactive thyroid or a congenital heart defect.

Q: What happens to the heart during atrial fibrillation?
A: The atria, the two upper chambers of the heart, contract rapidly and irregularly preventing proper pumping of blood into the ventricles, the two lower chambers of the heart. An atrial fibrillation heart rate can be between 100 to 175 beats per minute, much higher than a normal heart rate, which is between 60 and 100 beats per minute.

Q: Is atrial fibrillation serious?
A: If not treated, atrial fibrillation can cause very serious complications including heart failure or stroke. Treatment for atrial fibrillation may include taking medication, or undergoing a medical procedure or surgery.

Q: What are the symptoms of atrial fibrillation?
A: Atrial fibrillation may cause symptoms including chest pain, palpitations, difficulty breathing, fatigue, weakness, confusion or dizziness. Or it may cause no symptoms at all.

Q: Can it be prevented?
A: To help prevent atrial fibrillation, eat a heart-healthy diet, maintain a healthy weight, avoid smoking and exercise at least most days of the week.

To learn more about The Medical Center of Plano Chest Pain Center, visit us online. To schedule an appointment to talk to a doctor about any heart health concerns, call 1-855-665-TMCP.

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