Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a condition that disrupts the body's regular heartbeat. A glitch in the heartís electrical system makes the upper chambers (the atria) quiver. This causes the lower chambers (the ventricles) to beat irregularly. AFib can be dangerous because it raises the risk of stroke and heart failure.
Warning Sign: Uneven Pulse
In many people, AFib does not cause obvious warning signs. When symptoms do occur, they often include:
- An uneven pulse
- A racing or pounding heart
- A feeling that the heart is fluttering
- Chest pain
Warning Sign: Dizziness
An irregular heartbeat can take a toll on the body, leading to problems such as:
- Weakness and fatigue
AFib and Stroke
If the heart isnít pumping like it should, blood can pool and may form a clot. This clot can travel through the bloodstream to the brain, causing a stroke. People with AFib are five times more likely to have a stroke than those without it.
When to Seek Emergency Care
AFib is not always an emergency, but you should call 911 if you have any of these symptoms:
Severe chest pain
Uneven pulse and feeling faint
Signs of a stroke, such as numbness or slurred speech
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