top of page

Acerca de

Atrial Fibrillation (AF)

Atrial Fibrillation or AF happens when the electrical impulses in your top two chambers (the atria) fire chaotically when they should be steady and regular, causing them to quiver or twitch (fibrillation). 

If this happens you might feel an irregular and sometimes fast, heartbeat or pulse. Some people say it feels like their heart is fluttering or racing (known as palpitations).

Atrial fibrillation might come and go (paroxysmal atrial fibrillation), but sometimes it doesn’t go away at all. It’s not life-threatening, but it’s considered serious because it could create blood clots in the heart that may lead to a stroke.

What are the symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation?


You might notice your heartbeat feels strange and sometimes very fast, even when you’re not exercising. Other symptoms of AF can include:

  • Chest pain

  • Palpitations

  • Finding it harder to exercise

  • Tiredness

  • Shortness of breath

  • Dizziness or feeling faint

What causes Atrial Fibrillation?


The cause of AF is not always understood but damage to the heart is the most common cause of atrial fibrillation. This can be a result of:

  • High blood pressure

  • Heart valve disease

  • Congenial heart disease

  • pericarditis

  • Cardiomyopathy

  • Diabetes

  • Having had surgery on your heart

  • Sick sinus syndrome

How is Atrial Fibrillation diagnosed?


You should see a doctor for diagnosis but you may also detect it by feeling your pulse at your wrist. A normal heart rate is steady and usually between 60 and 100 beats a minute when you're resting. If you have AF, your pulse will have no set pattern and the beats might have different strengths. 

Some people have AF which comes and goes. This means their pulse may feel normal at times and at other times it will be irregular. If your GP suspects you have AF, they should refer you for further tests including: 

  • An ECG (Electrocardiogram)

  • An Echocardiogram

  • Chest x-ray

  • Blood tests

How is Atrial Fibrillation treated?

You should see your doctor if you’re having symptoms of AF. Your doctor will find a treatment to control the rate and rhythm of your heart. This may include:

  • Ablation

  • Medication such as beta blockers and anti-arrhythmic drugs

  • Cardioversion

  • Pacemaker implant

More information:

For more information about AF, you can find guides about Atrial Fibrillation by the British Heart Foundation or the NHS.

bottom of page