Your heart’s electrical system tells your heart when to contract and pump blood to the rest of your body. With AFib, these electrical impulses don’t work the way they should, short-circuiting in a sense. As a result, the heart beats too quickly and irregularly.
AFib is sometimes called a quivering heart. That’s because the two upper parts of the heart (called the atria) quiver. When this happens, the normal communication between the upper and lower chambers of the heart is disrupted and becomes very disorganized.
Because of this, many people with AFib feel zapped of energy fairly quickly or notice being out of breath simply walking up one flight of stairs. That’s because you may not be getting enough oxygen; the heart isn’t able to squeeze enough nutrient-rich blood out to the body.
There are 3 types of AFib:
• Paroxysmal: Comes and goes and generally stops on its own.
• Persistent: Lasts more than a week and can become permanent.
• Permanent: The heart’s normal rhythm can’t be restored.
Some cases of AFib are due to a heart valve problem, while some are not.
If you have AFib, you’re not alone. It’s the most common type of irregular heartbeat, affecting more than 3 million Americans. If untreated, it can lead to blood clots, stroke and heart failure.
Because your heart beat is out of sync, blood can collect in the chambers of the heart. When this happens, blood clots can form and can travel to the brain causing a stroke. Strokes related to AFib tend to be more severe and deadly.