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Atrial Fibrillation in Teens

Although not as common, teens can also have symptoms of atrial fibrillation. It can be a single, isolated event or a sign of an underlying condition if repeated episodes follow.

“Unlike in adult patients, it is extremely rare to be diagnosed during a routine evaluation. Pediatric patients are almost always symptomatic with palpitations prior to a serious event such as cardiac arrest,” says Steven Fishberger, MD, a pediatric cardiologist at the NYU Langone Medical Center.

Page says younger patients with normal hearts who experience an isolated incident of atrial fibrillation symptoms are less likely to have the risk factors that can lead to stroke.

A single event of AFib for an otherwise healthy heart can be triggered by drug or alcohol use, or even exercise. Frequently, a teen will describe a sensation of the heart beating rapidly or chest pain and abdominal pain, Fishberger says.

If you feel symptoms of AFib, it's important to see your doctor. Your doctor can identify an irregular heartbeat by checking the pulse or listening to the heart with a stethoscope. Other tests include an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), which is the most reliable method to detect and confirm the presence of AFib. If AFib comes and goes from time to time, your doctor may ask you to wear a monitor or recorder to detect it. You may be asked to wear a Holter monitor or portable event monitor, which allows your doctor to analyze data that is recorded over a certain period of time.

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