|It is important to tell your doctor about all of your atrial fibrillation symptoms, including how often they occur and how long they last and how much they are interfering with your daily activities. This information will help guide your treatment plan.
Do any of these statements ring a bell with you? They are the kinds of reports that the SecondsCount editors – all heart doctors and nurses – often here from their patients who have Afib.
“I feel like my heart is racing, even sometimes when I’m not doing anything physical.”
“There’s a fluttering feeling in my chest.”
“I feel dizzy and weak.”
“I can’t even walk as far as I want anymore.”
“Sometimes, it’s pain in my chest. Other times, it’s like a feeling of pressure.”
Sharing information about all of your symptoms -- including how long they last, how often they occur, and how they affect you and your family -- is an important way that you can take charge of your heart health.
When the heart’s electrical system is functioning normally, electrical signals are transmitted between the upper and lower chambers of the heart. These signals tell the heart muscle when to contract to pump blood through the heart and out to the rest of the body. If you have atrial fibrillation (also known as Afib or AF), your heart’s electrical signals are misfiring, causing the upper heart chambers to quiver, or fibrillate. Atrial fibrillation is a common heart condition, affecting about 2.7 million people, according to the American Heart Association. Afib itself is not generally life-threatening, but it is a significant risk factor for stroke. This is why it is important for people with Afib to work with their medical team to manage their Afib as well as other risk factors for stroke and heart disease.
People with Afib describe a variety of symptoms, ranging from an alarming sensation that their heart is racing to a mild fluttery feeling in their chest. Some experience chest pain or pressure, while others report feel dizzy or weak. Others experience no symptoms at all.
Just as Afib symptoms vary, so does when they occur. For some people, the symptoms come and go, while others are constantly bothered by them.
The symptoms of Afib can be frightening, especially if you are feeling them for the first time. Afib symptoms should never be dismissed. It is essential to get medical help at once, since some AFib symptoms – particularly chest pain or pressure and sudden weakness -are also warning signs of a heart attack.
Click here to learn more about heart attack symptoms and why a heart attack is a medical emergency that must be treated without delay.
Getting Help for Atrial Fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation is a serious condition that requires medical attention. If you have Afib, your medical team will work with you to develop a plan to treat the condition and to manage your symptoms. It is important to see your doctor regularly and to be open and honest about all of your symptoms. In addition to describing your symptoms, how often they occur and how long they last, your medical team will want to know how much the symptoms are interfering with your daily activities. All of this information will help guide your treatment plan.
For more information about atrial fibrillation, including how it can be managed, click here.