What is atrial fibrillation (AFib)?

AFib is the most common type of irregular heartbeat that often causes the heart to beat too quickly. One of the biggest concerns with AFib is the risk of stroke. In fact, people with AFib have approximately 5 times greater risk of stroke than those who do not have AFib. It is estimated that by 2030, approximately 12 million people in the U.S. will have AFib.

How can AFib lead to a stroke?

During a normal heartbeat, the upper chambers (atria) and lower chambers (ventricles) of the heart work together to pump blood to the rest of the body. AFib occurs when the upper chambers of the heart beat irregularly, and do not pump all of the blood to the lower chambers, causing some blood to pool and potentially form clots. If a clot breaks loose, it can travel through the bloodstream to the brain and lead to a stroke. Strokes related to AFib are often more severe compared to strokes with other underlying causes.

People with AFib have approximately 5 times greater risk of stroke

AFib
is no minor matter.

It’s important to understand that there is an increased risk of stroke
associated with AFib, which makes this condition potentially serious.

What are common AFib symptoms to be aware of?

AFib symptoms can vary. Talk to your doctor if you experience any of these:

Irregular
heartbeat

Heart
palpitations

Chest
pain

Shortness
of breath

Fatigue

Light-headedness

When it comes to these symptoms,
this is
no time to wait.

Seeking medical attention early may help reduce the chance of AFib leading to something more serious. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor by phone, online, or in person.

Symptoms can also be associated with other potentially serious conditions not related to AFib.
Only a healthcare provider can determine whether these symptoms indicate AFib or another condition.

What did some patients experience BEFORE BEING DIAGNOSED WITH AFib?

“I was waking up at night with
shortness of breath and a feeling
of pressure on my lungs.

AFib patient and paid ambassador

My heart was racing periodically when I was lying down.”

“You have to pay attention to maybe being a little more fatigued than you normally are, or occasionally having a little faster pulse than you've had before.”

AFib patient and paid ambassador

For those with AFib,
symptoms may come and
go, but
whether or not symptoms are present,
there is increased risk of stroke.

Some people who have AFib may not experience any symptoms at all. Only a healthcare provider can determine whether these symptoms indicate AFib or another condition.

WHAT ARE SOME RISK FACTORS FOR AFib?

There are some risk factors that may increase your chances of developing AFib. These include but are not limited to:

  • Age 65 and older
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Sleep apnea
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Heart disease, such as congestive
    heart failure and coronary artery disease
  • Prior heart attacks
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Overactive thyroid

How CAN I PREPARE FOR MY doctor’s appointment?

Here are some tips to help you make the most of your conversation with the doctor:

Write down your symptoms or concerns and note when and how often they’ve occurred

Make a list of all the medications you’re currently taking

Make a list of any questions you have

Gather your insurance information to bring
to the visit

How is AFib diagnosed?

Only a healthcare provider can diagnose AFib. In order to detect AFib, a healthcare provider may conduct various tests:

Pulse checks are simple tests where a healthcare provider will place their fingers near an artery and measure the pulse, or the number of heartbeats per minute.

Auscultation of the heart is the method of listening to the heart with a stethoscope during a physical examination to determine if it sounds normal or abnormal.

Electrocardiogram, also called EKG or ECG, is a test that uses small patches called electrodes, placed on the skin, to monitor heart rhythm and detect abnormal rhythms. EKGs can be used to confirm the diagnosis of AFib.

How CAN I PREPARE FOR MY doctor’s appointment?

Here are some tips to help you make the most of your conversation with the doctor:

Write down your symptoms or concerns and note when and how often they’ve occurred

Make a list of all the medications you’re currently taking

Make a list of any questions you have

Gather your insurance information to bring
to the visit

How is AFib diagnosed?

Only a healthcare provider can diagnose AFib. In order to detect AFib, a healthcare provider may conduct various tests:

Pulse checks are simple tests where a healthcare provider will place their fingers near an artery and measure the pulse, or the number of heartbeats per minute.

Auscultation of the heart is the method of listening to the heart with a stethoscope during a physical examination to determine if it sounds normal or abnormal.

Electrocardiogram, also called EKG or ECG, is a test that uses small patches called electrodes, placed on the skin, to monitor heart rhythm and detect abnormal rhythms. EKGs can be used to confirm the diagnosis of AFib.

Seeking medical attention early may
help reduce the chance of AFib
leading to something more serious.

Familiarize yourself with AFib symptoms and risk factors. It is also important to understand that you can experience symptoms or have risk factors but not have AFib. You could also have AFib and not experience any symptoms. If you experience any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor by phone, online, or in person.

If you have concerns about seeing your doctor in person during this time, check to see what safety
measures are in place at the doctor’s office. Your doctor may also offer a telehealth option.