Skip to content

Atrial Fibrillation Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Atrial Fibrillation - Symptoms

Atrial fibrillation is often discovered during routine medical checkups, because many people don't have symptoms. Others may notice an irregular pulse but don't have other symptoms.

Mild symptoms of atrial fibrillation may occur immediately. More serious problems may occur after the start of atrial fibrillation and over the course of several days. So it is important to identify symptoms and get treatment as soon as possible.

Symptoms include:

  • Heart palpitations.
  • Irregular pulse.
  • Shortness of breath, especially during physical activity or emotional stress.
  • Weakness, fatigue.
  • Chest pain.
  • Dizziness, confusion.
  • Lightheadedness or fainting (syncope).

Checking your pulse

Checking your pulse slideshow.gif is important, because many people don't have symptoms of atrial fibrillation. Ask your doctor how often you should check your heartbeat. If you have atrial fibrillation but have trouble feeling if your heart beat is irregular, you can buy a low-priced stethoscope camera.gif to listen to your heart.

If you notice that your heartbeat doesn't have a regular rhythm, talk to your doctor.

Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is called paroxysmal if episodes last 7 days or less. The episodes may go away on their own or they go away after treatment.

Typically, over time, episodes of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation come on more often and last longer.

Persistent atrial fibrillation

Over time, episodes of atrial fibrillation typically last longer and often don't go away on their own. If an episode lasts more than 7 days, this is called persistent atrial fibrillation. If an episode lasts for more than 12 months, it is called long-standing persistent atrial fibrillation.

Permanent atrial fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is called permanent if you and your doctor have decided to not treat your episodes. Although it is called permanent, you can change your mind later and try treatments to restore a normal heart rhythm.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 05, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

pacemaker next to xray
Ablation, cardioversion, pacemaker, and more.
human brain
What you need to know.
 
woman doing yoga
Tips for easing stress.
fish and vegetables
How to eat to protect your heart.
 
Omega 3 Overview Slideshow
Slideshow
At Risk for Heart Disease
Article
 
Recognizing Womens Heart Symptoms
Article
Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol
Slideshow
 

Resolved To Quit Smoking
Slideshow
Lowering Blood Pressure Slideshow
Slideshow
 
Heart Disease And Ed
Article
Atrial fibrillation
Slideshow
 

WebMD Special Sections