Symptoms and diagnosis

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of atrial fibrillation can vary a lot, but the most frequent are palpitations, which is an uncomfortable sensation in the heartbeat, generally situated on the left side of the chest.

 

Palpitations are normally felt as a rapid and irregular beating of the heart. In other cases, fatigue while performing daily activities can be a symptom of the condition. Even so, atrial fibrillation does not always cause symptoms, and so, it might be diagnosed in a routine medical check-up.

 

How is it diagnosed?

In the majority of cases, atrial fibrillation is diagnosed by means of an EKG (electrocardiogram). This is a simple and painless test in which the electrical activity of the heart is recorded, which then allows an evaluation of the heart rate.

 

When the patient only feels discomfort during short periods of time (some minutes or hours), the diagnosis can prove more difficult. For these cases, there are devices that can obtain a continuous electrocardiogram over a period of one or two days.

 

How can it affect me?

Patients with this condition generally experience tiredness, especially at the beginning, and they require an adaptation period. Even so, treatments and procedures exist for all cases that succeed in reducing the impact of the fibrillation in everyday life.