Atrial fibrillation
Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial Fibrillation: Definition, 4 Types, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Atrial Fibrillation Definition

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a heart rhythm disorder characterized by irregular and rapid heart rate. Atrial fibrillation sufferers can feel symptoms of weakness, heart palpitations, and shortness of breath.

A normal heart rate ranges from 60-100 times per minute with a regular rhythm. In people with atrial fibrillation, the heart rhythm becomes irregular and can be more than 100 times per minute.

Atrial fibrillation is a type of arrhythmia or heart rhythm disorder. Symptoms can disappear, last a long time, or even permanently. If left unchecked, atrial fibrillation can result in heart failure and stroke.

Atrial Fibrillation Types

Types of AF are:


In this case it is called paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. You may experience symptoms that come and go, usually lasting for a few minutes to hours. The symptoms may disappear or you may need treatment.


With this type of atrial fibrillation, your heart rhythm does not return to normal by itself. If you have this AF, electric shock or medication is the treatment you need.

Long-term Persistent.

This type of atrial fibrillation continues and lasts longer than 12 months.


This type of AF is a condition in which abnormal heart rhythms cannot be restored. You will experience permanent atrial fibrillation and you will need medications to control your heart rate and prevent blood clotting.

Atrial Fibrillation Symptoms

Atrial fibrillation (AF) can cause symptoms of feeling tired quickly or not even cause any symptoms, so it is not noticed by the sufferer. But if the heart rate is too fast, people with atrial fibrillation may experience the following symptoms:

  • Limp
  • Dizziness.
  • Heart palpitations
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath

AF can last occasionally in minutes to hours, or occur repeatedly during the week. Symptoms of this kind of AF can still disappear, either disappearing themselves or with drugs.

However, atrial fibrillation can also occur continuously for more than a year or even permanently. The condition requires long-term treatment to prevent stroke and heart failure.

Atrial Fibrillation Causes

Damage or changes to the structure of the heart can cause atrial fibrillation. Other causes of atrial fibrillation are:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension);
  • Heart attack;
  • Coronary heart disease;
  • Heart valve disease.
  • Heart defects from birth
  • An overactive thyroid gland
  • Consuming alco**hol, caffeine and smo**king
  • Have lung disease
  • Viral infection
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes.

Read also:
Heart Skipping Beats: Risk Factors, and How To Stop It [Atrial Fibrillation]

Atrial Fibrillation Diagnosis

To establish a diagnosis of atrial fibrillation, the doctor can conduct detailed medical interviews to evaluate the signs, symptoms, history of the disease, as well as conduct a live physical examination.

Some supporting checks that can be done, namely:

Electrocardiogram (ECG).

ECG examination uses electrodes (sensors) placed on the chest, arms, and legs to detect and record the electrical activity of the heart. ECG examination is the main examination in diagnosing atrial fibrillation.

Holter monitor

This portable ECG device can be carried in your pocket or worn on a belt. This equipment serves to record your heart activity for 24 hours or more, which will give your doctor a long look at your heart rhythm.


The test uses sound waves to get imaging of the shape of the heart.

Stress test.

This examination involves a heart examination performed while a person is doing sports activities.

Blood test

This test helps your doctor get rid of thyroid problems or other substances in the blood that can cause atrial fibrillation.

Imaging test

It is commonly used to see an overview of the heart and pulmonary conditions. One of the imaging tests that doctors might suggest is X-rays.

Treatment of Atrial Fibrillation (AF)

The goal of AF treatment is to address the cause, normalize the heart rate, and prevent blockages in blood vessels, as will be explained below.

Normalizes heart rate and rhythm

In order to normalize the heart rate that is too fast and make the heart rhythm becomes regular, the doctor can perform the following treatment methods:

  • Antiarrhythmic drugs, such as beta inhibitors, digoxin, quinidine, amiodarone, or calcium antagonists.
  • Cardioversion or electroshock of the heart.
  • Heart ablation by destroying the damaged part of the heart and disrupting the heart’s electricity.

Even though an electric shock or ablation, heart doctors can still give drugs to keep the heart rate normal.

Last Updated on February 15, 2022 Reviewed by Market Health Beauty Team

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