Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is the most common type of irregular heartbeat, causing the upper chambers (atria) to quiver rapidly and ineffectively rather than pump rhythmically. It is due to a malfunction in the heart's electrical system.
- AF can lead to rapid heart rhythm, where the heart can beat as much as 300 times or more in the atria and 150 times or more in the ventricles (lower chambers). AF can be detected with an electrocardiogram (EKG) - a simple, painless test that records the heart's electrical activity or a cardiac monitor.
Because of the effects of AF, treatment is important. Effects of AF:
- Blood pooling and clotting because it is not pumped properly causing decreased quality of life and even stroke
- Overall feeling of weakness/fatigue/lethargy
- Heart becoming larger and weaker leading to heart failureSymptoms of AF:
- Racing, uncomfortable, pounding or irregular heartbeat
- Dizziness, sweating, chest pain or pressure
- Fatigue/weakness or shortness of breath
- Occasionally people do not experience any symptoms
- AF affects more than seven million people in the United States and Europe with expectations to double in the next 40 years.