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Atrial Fibrillation - When to Call a Doctor

Call 911 or other emergency services immediately if you:

  • Have symptoms of a heart attack, such as chest pain or pressure, shortness of breath, and nausea.
  • Have symptoms of a stroke, such as sudden vision changes; trouble speaking; or numbness, tingling, weakness, or loss of movement in your face or an arm or a leg.
  • Feel faint and have an irregular heartbeat.

If you see someone pass out, call 911 or other emergency services immediately.

Recommended Related to Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) Myths and Facts

Atrial fibrillation, also known as AFib, happens when your normal heart beat or rhythm is changed and may not be able to pump enough blood. About 1% of Americans have AFib. Millions of people with long-lasting AFib live quite well, said Gordon F. Tomaselli, MD, director of the Division of Cardiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a past president of the American Heart Association. "It's very possible to live a normal life for many years." If you or someone you know has been...

Read the Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) Myths and Facts article > >

Call your doctor if you have:

  • An irregular heart rate.
  • Heart palpitations.
  • Periods of unexplained lightheadedness, dizziness, or confusion.
  • An episode of fainting or you come close to fainting for no apparent reason.
  • Shortness of breath that gets worse with exercise.

If you take a blood thinner

If you take blood-thinning medicine, such as an anticoagulant or aspirin, watch for signs of bleeding.

Call 911 or other emergency services immediately if you:

  • You have a sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches. (It may be a sign of bleeding in the brain.)

Call your doctor right away if you have any unusual bleeding, such as:

  • Nosebleeds.
  • Vaginal bleeding that is different (heavier, more frequent, at a different time of the month) than what you are used to.
  • Bloody or black stools, or rectal bleeding.
  • Bloody or pink urine.

Who to see

The following health professionals can detect, diagnose and, in some cases, treat atrial fibrillation:

The following specialists can treat people who have severe symptoms:

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 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.
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