Atrial fibrillation, sometimes called AFib or AF, is the most common type of heart arrhythmia. Arrhythmias happen when the heart beats too slowly, too quickly, or irregularly. In AFib, the two upper chambers of the heart beat irregularly. This causes the lower chambers of the heart not to properly fill with blood. While some people with atrial fibrillation experience no or few symptoms, the event can cause palpitations, lightheadedness, dizziness, shortness of breath, poor exercise tolerance, and chest discomfort. Knowing the warning signs can help individuals seek medical attention promptly and avoid complications.


1. Risk Factors for Atrial Fibrillation

Many factors may put a person at higher risk for atrial fibrillation. Getting older is one of the biggest risk factors; nine percent of people aged 65 and older have the condition. High blood pressure and obesity also significantly increase one's risk of developing AFib. Other risk factors include

  • Previous heart failure
  • Ischemic heart disease
  • Being of European ancestry
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Heavy alcohol use or smoking
  • Enlarged heart chambers on the left side
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