How Do You Know If You Have Atrial Fibrillation?


Quick Answer

The most common symptom of atrial fibrillation is a quivering or fluttering heartbeat. Other symptoms include fatigue, dizziness and chest pain. Often, no symptoms show up in people with AFib and the condition is only detectable through an examination by a physician, according to the American Heart Association.

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Full Answer

AFib is caused by abnormal electrical signals in the heart that cause the atria to quiver, so a rapid or irregular heartbeat is a possible indication of AFib. An irregular heartbeat may feel like a fluttering or a thumping in the chest. Shortness of breath, anxiety, weakness, faintness and confusion may accompany these symptoms, states the AHA.

A person with symptoms of AFib should consult a doctor, who will likely recommend an electrocardiogram test. This consists of small electrodes being placed on the chest to measure the heart's electrical activity. Additionally, a physician may recommend that a person wear a Holter monitor for a few days. This device gets attached to the chest to measure the electrical activity of the heart continuously. With both an electrocardiogram and a Holter monitor, a doctor reviews the test results for evidence of an arrhythmia and may follow up with blood tests, chest x-rays or an exercise stress test to confirm whether an individual has AFib, reports WebMD.

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