Atrial Fibrillation


Atrial Fibrillation: What is It and How Dangerous Is It?

Atrial fibrillation, or a-fib, is a potentially life-threatening heart condition that affects the upper chambers (atria) of the heart. An estimated 2.7 million Americans are living with atrial fibrillation, and approximately 750,000 new cases of this condition are diagnosed each year.

Atrial fibrillation is caused by a malfunction of the heart's electrical system, leading to rapid and irregular heartbeats. These rapid, often erratic beats, make it difficult for the heart to pump blood throughout the body, depriving important organs of oxygen. If left untreated, it can lead to serious complications, such as stroke, heart failure, and even death.

Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation

Common symptoms of a-fib include chest pain, heart palpitations, dizziness, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, tiredness, and fatigue. Some people with atrial fibrillation may experience no symptoms at all.

Diagnosis and Treatment Options

Diagnosis of atrial fibrillation typically involves a physical exam, electrocardiogram (ECG), and echocardiogram. Treatment options for atrial fibrillation are tailored to the individual, but may include lifestyle changes, medications, or a procedure like radiofrequency ablation.

Lifestyle Changes for Atrial Fibrillation

Making certain lifestyle changes can help reduce the severity and frequency of symptoms in people with atrial fibrillation. These lifestyle modifications include:

  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet.
  • Getting regular physical activity.
  • Avoiding caffeine and alcohol.
  • Quitting smoking.
  • Taking steps to reduce stress.
  • Taking medications as prescribed.


Atrial fibrillation is a potentially serious condition that affects millions of Americans each year. Above all, it is important for people to be aware of the symptoms and risks associated with this condition so they can get the necessary treatment and care they need. By following a healthy lifestyle and making proactive changes to reduce risk factors, people can help reduce their risk of developing atrial fibrillation and its complications.