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Regional Medical Center of San Jose
Good Samaritan Hospital

Atrial Fibrillation

What is Atrial Fibrillation?

Atrial Fibrillation (AFIB) is a rapid, irregular heart rhythm caused by abnormal electrical signals from the atria (upper chambers of the heart) that commonly cause poor blood flow to the body.

Rather than taking a specific path within these chambers, the electrical signal swirls around at a rate of many hundreds of beats per minute. The consequences of these rapid electrical signals is that the upper chambers do not contract in an organized fashion. Therefore, rather than pumping out blood with considerable forces, as during normal rhythm, the blood empties from the atria to the ventricles passively on its own. This decreased pumping function my result in the patient having less energy or cause a limitation of exertion.

Common Symptoms

  • Irregular and rapid heartbeat
  • Heart palpitations or rapid thumping inside the chest
  • Dizziness, sweating and chest pain or pressure
  • Shortness of breath, anxiety
  • Fainting

Although not life threatening, Atrial Fibrillation can lead to stroke or heart muscle damage. If you have AFIB, you are five times more likely than the general population to have a stroke.

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