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Living With Atrial Fibrillation

If you have atrial fibrillation (often called AFib), you’re not alone.

AFib is the most common type of heart arrhythmia—a problem with the heart’s rhythm. It happens when the electrical signals that help the heart function become chaotic and misfire.

You may feel a fluttering sensation in your chest, or your heart might be racing or skipping beats, which can be worrying; although not all people have these signs.

Living with AFib can affect many different aspects of your life, including your stamina, relationships and emotional health. But taking an active role in your care can help you feel better and more in control.  

Certain things can trigger atrial fibrillation and acute episodes in people who already have it. For example:
  • Infections
  • Heart failure
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Caffeine, which can increase your heart rate and spark an AFib episode in some individuals
  • Skipping doses of medications aimed to control AFib
  • Smoking or taking stimulants

It can be helpful to write down a list of questions before each medical appointment. Some questions might include:
  • What type of exercise program is best for me? Are there activities I should avoid?
  • Should I be keeping track of any health markers at home (for example, my weight or pulse)?
  • Are there things that might trigger episodes of AFib? If so, what are they?
  • What is my risk of having a stroke?
  • What steps can I take to lower my risk of heart attack or stroke?
  • Will my AFib ever go away?
  • How can I explain my condition to other people?
  • If I’m on warfarin, does it mean I can’t eat any greens?
  • After starting blood thinners, what should I do if I notice that I'm bruising more than usual?
  • How can a pacemaker help manage AFib?  
  • Are there other resources for information and support?

Visit CardioSmart to learn more about atrial fibrillation and other heart-related topics and get practical tips for heart healthy living, taking medications and much more. You can also connect with other people who have AFib.

In addition to the resources on CardioSmart, you can find out more about AFib by visiting:

American Heart Association
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute


U.S. National Library of Medicine
Search "atrial fibrillation"
  • Last Edited 09/30/2016

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