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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:

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. Once a month might be right for you.

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

Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation

When atrial fibrillation comes on suddenly, lasts a short time, and goes away on its own, it is called paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. 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. Treatment with medicine or cardioversion can restore a normal rhythm. This normal rhythm may last for several weeks or longer before atrial fibrillation happens again.

Permanent atrial fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation might start to happen all of the time. If atrial fibrillation has happened all of the time for at least 1 year, this is called permanent atrial fibrillation. Your treatments have not restored a normal rhythm, or you and your doctor have decided to stop trying to restore a normal rhythm.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 05, 2013
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.

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