What is Atrial Fibrillation?

Video: Learn about AFib and your heart

Atrial fibrillation is a quivering or irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia. Atrial fibrillation, also known as AFib or AF, can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. Over 12 million people are projected to have AFib by 2030.

Here’s how patients have described their experience:

“My heart flip-flops, skips beats, and feels like it’s banging against my chest wall, especially if I’m carrying stuff up my stairs or bending down.”
“I was nauseated, light-headed and weak. I had a really fast heartbeat and felt like I was gasping for air.”
“I had no symptoms at all. I discovered my AFib at a regular check-up. I’m glad we found it early.”

What happens during AFib?

Normally, your heart contracts and relaxes to a regular beat. In AFib, the upper chambers of the heart, or the atria, beat irregularly. Because not enough blood is being pumped out of the atria, blood pools in the area. The pooled blood can clot – which can be extremely dangerous.

If a blood clot forms, it can be pumped out of the heart to the brain. This blocks the blood supply to the brain and causes a stroke.

About 15% to 20% of people who have strokes have this heart arrhythmia. The clot risk is why patients with this condition are prescribed blood thinners*. 

Untreated AFib doubles the risk of heart-related deaths and is associated with a fivefold increased risk for stroke. Yet many people are unaware that AFib is a serious condition.

atrial fibrillation

Watch an animation of atrial fibrillation

AFib treatment saves lives and lowers risks

If you or someone you love has AFib, learn more about what it is; why treatment can save lives; and what you can do to reach your goals, lower your risks and live a healthy life.

If you think you may have AFib, here are your most important steps:

  1. Know the symptoms
  2. Get the right treatment
  3. Reduce your risk for stroke and heart failure

We’re here to help you live your healthiest life!

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Connect with People Who Care

Get the support you need by connecting online with others who are living with AFib. MyAFibExperience® is a place where people can share their real stories and make a real difference in people’s lives.

* Some medications are commonly called blood thinners because they can help reduce a blood clot from forming. There are two main types of blood thinners that patients commonly take: anticoagulants such as warfarin, dabigatran (Eliquis) and rivaroxaban (Xarelto), and antiplatelet drugs such as aspirin or clopidogrel. Each type of medication has a specific function to prevent a blood clot from forming or causing a blocked blood vessel, heart attack or stroke.