Types of Atrial Fibrillation

There are many types of atrial fibrillation, including primary, chronic, persistent, permanent, and paroxysmal. While permanent atrial fibrillation does not respond to treatment, the other types of atrial fibrillation can be controlled, depending on the cause and frequency of the episodes, as well as how long they last.

Types of Atrial Fibrillation: An Overview

There are several different types of atrial fibrillation. These include:
 
  • Primary atrial fibrillation
  • Chronic atrial fibrillation
  • Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation
  • Persistent atrial fibrillation
  • Permanent atrial fibrillation.
     

Primary Atrial Fibrillation

One type of atrial fibrillation is called primary, or lone, atrial fibrillation. It's referred to this way because the cause of primary atrial fibrillation can't be identified. It is usually seen in people who are between the ages of 30 and 50.
 

Chronic Atrial Fibrillation

More frequently, atrial fibrillation is associated with an existing heart problem and becomes an ongoing problem. This is called chronic atrial fibrillation. It's usually seen in older adults, and often doesn't go away, even with treatment.
 
Atrial fibrillation types can be classified even further, according to how long the episodes of fibrillation last and how often they happen. You may hear your doctor use the words "paroxysmal," "persistent," or "permanent" to describe the type of atrial fibrillation that you have.
 

Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation

In cases of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, the irregular rhythm occurs periodically. The human heart returns to the normal sinus rhythm on its own -- in a few minutes, hours, or days. People who have this type of atrial fibrillation may have episodes only a few times a year or every day. When these episodes begin and end is usually unpredictable, which can be very unsettling. About 1 in 4 people with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation eventually develop the permanent form of the condition
 
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Atrial Fibrillation Information

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