The symptoms of atrial fibrillation are shortness of breath, fatigue, heart palpitations, weakness, dizziness, confusion and chest pain, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Atrial fibrillation prevents the heart's ventricles from filling with blood, making it difficult for the heart to pump enough blood to the lungs and the rest of the body. There are three categories of atrial fibrillation, or Afib, which are paroxysmal, persistent and permanent Afib.
The ventricles are two of the chambers found in the heart. The other two chambers are called atria. When blood leaves the right atrium, it passes through the right ventricle. The right ventricle then pumps the blood to the lungs, according to MedlinePlus. In people with atrial fibrillation, the atria beat irregularly instead of moving blood into the ventricles. Experts from the American Heart Association say this condition increases the risk for stroke.
Preventing blood clots and restoring the heart's normal rhythm are the two goals of atrial fibrillation treatment, as per experts from the Mayo Clinic. Resetting the heart's rhythm is sometimes accomplished with a procedure called cardioversion. During electrical cardioversion, a health professional delivers an electrical shock to the heart. This temporarily stops the heart's electrical activity, but there is a chance the heart will resume its normal rhythm once it starts beating again. Medications may also be used to temporarily halt electrical activity and restore normal heart rhythm.
Although the symptoms may be the same in these different types of Afibs, a difference is in the duration of the condition. For example, paroxysmal Afib occurs when a patient has symptoms, such as an irregular heartbeat for up to 7 days and then the symptoms resolve on their own, notes Cleveland Clinic - Center for Continuing Education. With persistent Afib, the symptoms do not go away on their own, and the condition requires medical treatments for the normal restoration of a regular heart rhythm. Permanent Afib occurs when restoration of the heart rhythm is not possible and last indefinitely.