About Afib

Atrial fibrillation (also called Afib) is an irregular heartbeat. Normally, the heart contracts and then relaxes in a regular rhythm, moving blood from the upper chambers (atria) into the ventricles. In Afib, the atria beat irregularly instead of in a steady pattern. Due to this irregularity, people with atrial fibrillation are at a higher risk of blood clots, heart failure, stroke and other heart-related complications.

Four Levels of Atrial Fibrillation:
According to the Heart Rhythm Society

  1. Paroxysmal: Recurrent Afib (greater than two episodes) that ends within seven days.
  2. Persistent: Afib that is sustained more than seven days.
  3. Longstanding Persistent: Continuous Afib of more than one year duration.
  4. Permanent: Afib for which a decision has been made by the patient and the physician treating the Afib not to pursue restoration of sinus rhythm by any means.

Risk Factors of Atrial Fibrillation Include:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Advanced age. Atrial fibrillation can occur in children, but it’s rare. The risk for developing Afib increases significantly with older age.
  • Sleep apnea. Studies show a strong link between obstructive sleep apnea and Afib. Often, treating the apnea can improve Afib.
  • Family history
  • Drinking alcohol. Binge drinking (drinking five drinks in two hours for men, or four drinks for women) may put you at higher risk of developing Afib.

Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation

Sometimes people with Afib have no symptoms and their condition is only found during a physical exam. Others may have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Palpitations, which are sensations of a racing, uncomfortable, irregular heartbeat or a flip-flopping in your chest
  • Weakness
  • Reduced ability to exercise
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain

Key Facts

  • 33 million people worldwide suffer from Afib.1
  • 1.2 million people are diagnosed with Afib every year in the U.S. alone.2
  • 1 in 4 adults over 40 will develop Afib in their lifetime.3
  • People with Afib are 5x more likely to suffer a stroke.4
  • By 2030, the number of Americans suffering from Afib will be 12.1 million.2

*Chest pain or pressure is a medical emergency. You may be having a heart attack. Call 911 immediately.

[1] January CT, Wann LS, Alpert JS, Calkins H, Cigarroa JE, Cleveland JC Jr, et al. 2014 AHA/ACC/HRS guideline for the management of patients with atrial fibrillation. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2014;64(21):2246–80.
[2] Colilla et al.; Estimates of current and future incidence and prevalence of atrial fibrillation in the U.S. adult population. Amjcard 2013.
[3] Donald M. Lloyd-Jones et al.; Lifetime Risk for Development of Atrial Fibrillation; Circulation. 2004;110:1042-1046, originally published August 30, 2004
[4] Guide to Atrial Fibrillation. Heart Rhythm Society. 2014;6.