Episodes of atrial fibrillation can come and go, or you may develop atrial fibrillation that doesn't go away and may require treatment. Although atrial fibrillation itself usually isn't life-threatening, it is a serious medical condition that sometimes requires emergency treatment.
Who is at risk?
Anyone can have AFib, but it's more common in people who are 60 or older.
Other heart problems can make it more likely:
- Heart disease due to high blood pressure
- Heart valve disease
- Heart muscle disease (cardiomyopathy)
- Heart defect from birth (congenital heart defect)
- Heart failure
- Past heart surgery
Atrial fibrillation (AF) usually causes the heart's lower chambers, the ventricles, to contract faster than normal. When this happens, the ventricles can't completely fill with blood. Thus, they may not be able to pump enough blood to the lungs and body. This can lead to signs and symptoms, such as:
- Palpitations (feelings that your heart is skipping a beat, fluttering, or beating too hard or fast)
- Shortness of breath
- Weakness or problems exercising
- Chest pain
- Dizziness or fainting
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