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What are the signs and symptoms of atrial fibrillation?

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Quick Answer

Signs and symptoms of atrial fibrillation include dizziness, chest pain or a feeling of pounding, racing or fluttering in the chest, according to WebMD. Some patients experience fatigue and shortness of breath while at rest or during normal activities. Many patients have no symptoms at all.

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Full Answer

Atrial fibrillation is the malfunctioning of the heart's electrical system, which causes the heart to beat, WebMD reports. It is the most seen form of irregular heartbeat and affects approximately 2.2 million Americans. The chances of developing atrial fibrillation increases as a person ages.

A variety of conditions can result in atrial fibrillation, WebMD states. They include coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, lung disease, blood clots in the lungs and diseased heart muscle. At least 10 percent of patients have no underlying heart disease causing atrial fibrillation. In these patients, stress, infections, alcohol use or drinking caffeine could be the cause.

It is important to treat atrial fibrillation, WebMD advises. The longer blood is pooling in the heart, the more likely it is to clot. Blood clots can cause strokes or damage to vital organs such as the kidneys or liver. People with atrial fibrillation are seven times more likely to have dangerous blood clots than patients who do not have the condition.

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