Atrial fibrillation (AF or A-fib) is an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia) characterized by the rapid and irregular beating of the atrial chambers of the heart. It habitually begins as short periods of abnormal beating, which become longer or continuous over time. It may also start as other forms of arrhythmia such as atrial flutter that then transmute into Atrial fibrillation. Often episodes have no symptoms. Occasionally there may be heart palpitations, fainting, light headedness, shortness of breath, or chest pain. The disease is correlated with a heightened risk of heart failure, dementia, and stroke. It is a type of supraventricular tachycardia.
Peril for Atrial fibrillation are High blood pressure, and valvular heart disease, heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy, and congenital heart disease. Atrial fibrillation is often treated with the medications to slow the heart rate. Atrial fibrillation does not necessarily require blood-thinning though some healthcare providers may specify aspirin or an anti-clotting medication. For those at more than low risk, experts largely recommend an Anti-clotting medication. Anti-clotting medications include warfarin and direct oral anticoagulants. Most people are at elevated risk of stroke. While these medications reduce stroke risk, they increase rates of major bleeding.
Atrial fibrillation is the most common serious abnormal heart rhythm and, as of 2020, affects more than 33 million people worldwide. As of 2014, it affected about 2 to 3% of the population of Europe and North America. This was an increase from 0.4 to 1% of the population around 2005. In the developing world, about 0.6% of males and 0.4% of females are affected.
Since most cases of Atrial fibrillation are secondary to other medical problems, the presence of chest pain or angina, signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid gland) such as weight loss and diarrhea, and symptoms evocative of lung disease can indicate an underlying cause. A history of stroke or TIA, as well as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart failure, or rheumatic fever, may indicate whether someone with Atrial Fibrillation is at a higher risk of complications