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Conditions We Treat: Atrial Fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation is a type of cardiac arrhythmia (abnormality of heart rate and/or rhythm). Atrial fibrillation produces a rapid and irregular heartbeat, during which the atria (the upper two chambers of the heart that receive blood) quiver, or fibrillate, instead of beating normally.
Atrial Fibrillation: What You Need to Know
- Atrial fibrillation is a common cause of symptoms, but it may also be hidden and cause no symptoms at all. When symptoms do occur, there may be palpitations (awareness of a rapid heartbeat), fainting, dizziness, weakness, shortness of breath and angina pectoris (chest pain caused by a reduced blood supply to the heart muscle).
- For atrial fibrillation, the major risk factors are increased age (over 50), obesity, family history, hypertension, diabetes and thyrotoxicosis (an excess of thyroid hormones). In some patients, the underlying cause of atrial fibrillation is more serious than the arrhythmia itself.
- The diagnosis of atrial fibrillation can be established with an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG).
- Atrial fibrillation may be managed through medications, left atrial appendage closure, catheter ablation procedures and/or minimally invasive surgical procedures.
Why choose Johns Hopkins?
The expert health care team at Johns Hopkins recognizes that understanding your care is an essential part of recovery. Our arrhythmia service guide is a helpful resource.
Our Patient Information
Do you or a loved one have atrial fibrillation? Cardiologist Sunil Sinha provides a brief overview of what patients and families need to know about atrial fibrillation.