In the past century, medicine has made countless incredible and revolutionary discoveries that have helped to improve the quality of life for countless individuals. Utilizing the knowledge learned from these discoveries, a whole host of treatments, cures, and preventative action have been developed to ensure health and wellbeing. However, without the knowledge and intervention that something may be wrong, individuals can still die. This is why figuring out what symptoms mean and contacting your doctor can make all the difference in the world.
This can be especially true when it comes to Atrial Fibrillation. With over 2.6 million people with Atrial Fibrillation diagnosed in the United States alone, the potential damage caused by Atrial Fibrillation has to be addressed quickly. If not, then a person predisposes themselves to an increased risk of stroke and heart failure. With that in mind, let’s take a close look at the symptoms behind Atrial Fibrillation. Breaking down the different types of Atrial Fibrillation based on how its symptoms present and what you may experience, we will look at some of the identifying signs that you may have Atrial Fibrillation. But first, let us quickly define what Atrial Fibrillation is to see whether or not your symptoms match what is going on.
Getting the right AFib diagnosis requires first understanding what Atrial Fibrillation means. Atrial Fibrillation is an often-rapid heart rate that is also irregular. Poor blood flow results from this irregular heartbeat, increasing the risk for a host of problems. Atrial Fibrillation involves the two upper chambers of the heart beating in disharmony with the lower chambers. For many people, medication or surgery are their only options to restore their heartbeat back to a normal rhythm.
AFib Symptoms Severity May Depend On Type
There are three types Atrial Fibrillation. It is important to remember that while the symptoms may not change depending on the type of Atrial Fibrillation you have, how you experience these symptoms will change. The first and least dangerous type of AFib is Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation. This is because Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation will go away on its own, restoring the electrical signals and heart rate in less than 24 hours worth of time. If you have Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation, then you may have a day of symptoms and then nothing for weeks, or several days of symptoms per week.
On the other hand, Persistent Atrial Fibrillation means that your symptoms might last for a week or longer at a time, creating more symptoms and greater discomfort. In addition, medication may be required to restore a standard heartbeat. Finally, Permanent Arial Fibrillation will often cause the most severe symptoms. With Permanent Atrial Fibrillation, your symptoms will not go away on their own. This constant damage can cause symptoms to get worse over time, dramatically decreasing your quality of life until the symptoms are properly addressed. No matter the type of Atrial Fibrillation that you have, be aware of the following signs of Atrial Fibrillation.
Signs & Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation
Because Atrial Fibrillation can create problems with blood pumping, there are a range of symptoms and signs that you may have Atrial Fibrillation. Remember, that each of these things can occur for other reasons than Atrial Fibrillation. What you are looking for is repeated symptoms as well as more than one symptom. In addition, remember that with some types of Atrial Fibrillation, symptoms of AFib may appear sporadic.
Probably one of the most frequent symptoms of AFib, palpitations can take on a range of forms that include a feeling that is barely noticeable to feeling that may be overwhelming. A sensation of a racing heart is among the most frequently reported kinds of palpitations experienced. In addition, many people report feeling an uncomfortable heart sensation. Additional palpitation AFib symptoms include an irregular heartbeat that you can notice by taking your pulse. Finally, a flip-flop feeling may be experienced going on in your chest. All of these relate to the sensations created through the physical irregular beating of your heart. As with other symptoms, be sure to record how long palpitations lasted for, what the experience was like, and what the severity was like as it can help a doctor prescribe treatment.
Many people with Atrial Fibrillation also report having a general weakness. This weakness extends to basic tasks like moving things around the house, lifting, or even performing light chores. Individuals who experience weakness can often find a marked decrease in their abilities despite no changes in their lifestyle or medication. If this is happening to you, then consider it a potential symptom of Atrial Fibrillation.
*Reduced Ability To Exercise
Along with the weakness found in activities in and around the house, individuals who are later diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation often report having a reduced ability to exercise. This means that either the intensity or duration of your exercise is cut short by a feeling of less energy. The end result is exercises often being cut short due to this issue. A reduced ability to exercise is often most noticeable when a person is keeping track of their exercise routine. If you notice a gradual reduction in your ability to exercise without another external cause or change in medication, then it may be because of Atrial Fibrillation.
Weakness and a reduced ability to exercise both involve you exerting yourself. However, if you have Atrial Fibrillation, then you may also notice a decreased ability to stay awake and alert during the day. It is not uncommon for people with Atrial Fibrillation to experience being tired throughout the day, even if there is more sleep involved. The fatigue will last as long as the Atrial Fibrillation is occurring, which may be constant if you have a permanent type.
*Lightheadedness and Dizziness
With less blood circulation comes an increased risk of lightheadedness and dizziness. Both of these can be experienced for short to long periods of time as your heart struggles to get blood to where it needs to go. In addition, engaging in quick activity after remaining motionless can bring about dizziness and lightheadedness as well. There are also situations where you may experience both of these symptoms while going about your daily business. If and when these symptoms occur, take a moment to be mindful of your heart and check your heart rate. If your heart is beating abnormally fast or irregular, then you may indeed have Atrial Fibrillation.
Confusion can sometimes result from lightheadedness and dizziness alone. In addition, it can be intensified if you are also experiencing a sudden onset of other symptoms listed above. With everything happening at once, it is not uncommon to feel momentarily confused, especially you were in the middle of something moments before then. Unsettling and worrisome, confusion due to Atrial Fibrillation may keep occurring in the future, and as a result should be addressed sooner rather than later. As a final note, rapid AFib can sometimes bring about confusion as well as the symptoms above and should serve to underscore how important it is that you meet with your doctor if you are experiencing these symptoms.
*Shortness of Breath
Another unsettling symptom, having a shortness of breath can take anyone by surprise. However, with the lack of circulation causing problems throughout the body, you may experience short or long-term shortness of breath depending on the type of Atrial Fibrillation you have. While it rarely gets to the point where you feel like you cannot breath, it is unpleasant enough to never want to experience it again. Again, by seeing your doctor, you can begin to address your concerns and start down a road of better health.
One of the scariest AFib symptoms, chest pains can make you feel like you are having a heart attack. As your heart struggles with its irregular beat, the feeling may be noticeable enough to cause you pain and worry. Thankfully, chest pains when caused by Atrial Fibrillation generally do not last very long. However, if you are experiencing this along with other symptoms, then you should take steps to have yourself looked at.
Cataloging Your Symptoms
Prior to meeting with your doctor, try your very best to record symptoms as they happen. Record the time, the date, and the duration. In addition, take the opportunity to record how intense the symptoms were as well. All of this information will prove invaluable to your doctor as he or she works to properly diagnose you. The more you are aware of what is going on, the better the overall standard of care is going to be.
While Atrial Fibrillation can be scary to experience, thanks to the symptoms as well as a potential for future complications, it can also be manageable and fixable with modern day medications and surgery. What you need to do however, is to contact your doctor when you begin experiencing symptoms. The sooner you address Atrial Fibrillation, the happier and healthier you will be.