Atrial fibrillation, the most common type of arrhythmia, is an irregular, fast heartbeat that can cause poor blood flow from your heart to your body.

Atrial fibrillation (often called AFib) is caused by problems with the heart’s electrical system.

It can increase your risk of stroke and heart failure.

Atrial Fibrillation Symptoms

Atrial fibrillation often doesn’t produce clear symptoms. Symptoms may also start or stop suddenly. This is because atrial fibrillation may stop or start on its own.
Some symptoms you may notice include:

  • Sensations of feeling the heart beat (palpitations)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness or difficulty exercising
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion

Arrhythmias can cause sudden cardiac arrest, which occurs when the heart’s electrical system stops working properly. You may experience the above symptoms before a sudden cardiac arrest.

However, when a sudden cardiac arrest happens, its symptoms are severe:

  • Sudden collapse
  • No pulse
  • No breathing
  • Loss of consciousness

Sudden cardiac arrest can result in sudden cardiac death within minutes without emergency treatment, such as CPR or defibrillation. If you or someone around you experiences these symptoms, call 911 immediately.

Atrial Fibrillation Diagnosis

At Wake Forest Baptist, our cardiac electrophysiology specialists diagnose atrial fibrillation by evaluating your family and medical history and performing a physical exam. If your doctor suspects atrial fibrillation, he or she may recommend one or more of the following tests:

Atrial Fibrillation Treatment

Your treatment course will depend on several factors, such as how long you’ve had atrial fibrillation and how severe your symptoms are. Your doctor will develop a personalized treatment plan for you, which may include one or more of the following:

Only you and your doctor can decide which treatment is right for you. All of our patients receive pre-operative counseling to help them understand the risks and benefits of procedures.

Heart and Vascular Center

Wake Forest Baptist’s Heart and Vascular Center combines cardiology, cardiothoracic surgery and vascular surgery to provide a multidisciplinary team approach to patient- and family-centered care. At the Heart and Vascular Center, our philosophy is clear: patients come first. We offer the latest in technology, devices and medication combined with personalized care, to offer life-changing vascular and heart disease treatments.

What Is Atrial Fibrillation?

Dr. Eli Beaty, a cardiologist at Wake Forest Baptist Health, describes atrial fibrillation, what causes A-fib, and how an EP specialist can help patients manage it.