Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)

Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is an abnormal heart rhythm. The four chambers of the heart usually beat in a steady, rhythmic pattern. AFib means that the atria (upper chambers of the heart) are fibrillating or twitching quickly and creating an irregular rhythm.

Atrial Fibrillation (A Fib) is one of the most common abnormal heart rhythms, particularly once a person reaches the age of 65 years, (earlier in many patients). It is a major health problem. The heart is a pump, and in order to function efficiently, it is regulated by an internal pacemaker that regulates the beat of the heart. Normally the electrical impulse starts in the top of the heart, travels downward from the upper chambers (the atria) to the lower chambers (the ventricles) and results in a regular rhythmic contraction of the chambers.

With atrial fibrillation, control of electrical activity in the upper chambers becomes disorganized and the atria fibrillate (quiver or twitch quickly) causing an irregular rhythm. Stroke is the greatest risk for the patient with atrial fibrillation. Some patients are not aware of atrial fibrillation and in them, the risk remains unrecognized. In these patients, the first indication of AFib may be admission to a hospital with a stroke. Other patients may be aware of an irregular heartbeat and the sensation may be uncomfortable. If the heartbeat is very fast for a long period of time, it can also lead to heart failure.

Therefore a major goal of the Heart Rhythm Society is create awareness of atrial fibrillation in order to prevent stroke and heart failure. Atrial fibrillation may be a primary electrical abnormality of the heart, may be associated with underlying heart problems including problems with heart valves, coronary arteries, heart muscle, congestive heart failure, or may be related to problems with the thyroid gland or other disorders of the body's metabolism.

Today there are many ways to treat and control atrial fibrillation including medications and procedures.

The AFib Risk Assessment is an interactive tool designed to help individuals estimate their risk of atrial fibrillation (AFib). Learn your risk by using this online tool! It's fast and easy - simply answer a few questions regarding your health and get your results. After you have finished using the AFib Risk Assessment, please consult with your physician regarding your results.

© Heart Rhythm Society 2019