What is atrial fibrillation (AF)?
For most people, having atrial fibrillation will have some effect on their quality of life. Atrial fibrillation is a common heart condition that is seen increasingly with age, especially in people over the age of 60. The most common effects include:
- Palpitations (a fluttering or thumping feeling in the chest or throat)
- Shortness of breath
- Light-headedness or fainting
- Chest pain or heaviness in the chest
- Anxiety or feeling generally unwell
- Reduced exercise capacity
For most people, the ability to enjoy a great quality of life is their top priority. Our goal is to help you understand AF and if required, with your care team, create a personalised treatment plan to get the best outcome for the underlying condition and your overall quality of life.
What Causes Atrial Fibrillation?
The majority of AF is caused by underlying heart problems and conditions such as high blood pressure (hypertension) and sleep apnoea. Your cardiologist will talk to you about treating any underlying conditions which may be causing AF.
Types of AF
Different people can experience different types of AF.
Paroxysmal AF: short, intermittent episodes of AF which start and stop spontaneously without treatment, but can last for several hours or even days.
Persistent AF: continuous pattern of AF which does not return to normal rhythm on its own. This must be medically treated.
Permanent AF: pattern of continuous AF has been present for 12 months or longer.
Looking out for your wellbeing
Some people can go through life with AF and have little or no health problems from the condition but for others it can lead to a weakening of the heart muscle and potential heart failure as well as worsening of any existing heart problems.
One of the greatest health risks from AF is a stroke. People with a current or past diagnosis of AF are at increased risk of having a stroke. However, there are treatments and lifestyle changes that your care team will be happy to talk you through that will reduce the risk.