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.
- 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 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 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 restore a normal heart rhythm. Although it is called permanent, you can change your mind later and try treatments to restore a normal heart rhythm.