Heart Home > Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation

Heart palpitations, a faster-than-normal pulse, and chest tightness are common symptoms and signs of atrial fibrillation. When the condition reduces the amount of blood the heart pumps, the body may not get enough oxygen. This can cause symptoms like shortness of breath and dizziness. Atrial fibrillation can also lead to heart attack or stroke, so it's important to know how signs of these conditions differ from atrial fibrillation symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation: An Introduction

The symptoms of atrial fibrillation can vary. Some people don't feel anything while their heart is fibrillating, while others can tell right away. This is because the symptoms depend partly on the causes of atrial fibrillation (such as diseases or other problems), as well as on how much the condition affects the functioning of the heart.
 

Common Atrial Fibrillation Symptoms

The most common symptoms of atrial fibrillation are:
 
  • Heart palpitations (the feeling like your heart is racing or pounding)
  • Feeling like your heart is fluttering
  • An irregular heartbeat or pulse that is faster than normal
  • Tightness or discomfort in your chest.
 
These symptoms occur because the electrical signals in your heart are causing it to beat at an unusually fast and irregular rate.
 

Low Oxygen and Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation can decrease the amount of blood your heart pumps with each beat by as much as 20 to 30 percent. As a result, other symptoms will occur when your body isn't getting enough oxygen and nutrients. These include:
 
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Feeling too tired to exercise or even complete normal everyday tasks.
     
These atrial fibrillation symptoms often get worse during physical activity.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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