What does atrial fibrillation feel like?

Senthil K. Thambidorai, MD
Internal Medicine
Atrial fibrillation can cause a very fast and irregular heartbeat, which can give rise to symptoms including chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue and lightheadedness.

In atrial fibrillation, blood does not move well in the heart. Because of that, it tends to clot, and the clot can then go to the brain, which gives rise to a stroke. Not everybody feels their atrial fibrillation. But even if you don't feel it, your risk for stroke remains.
Douglas E. Severance, MD
Family Medicine
With atrial fibrillation, you may notice an irregular heartbeat, like your heart is skipping a beat or adding extra beats. You may notice that your sleep is affected because of a rapid, irregular heartbeat. You may find it harder to catch your breath. You might experience extreme fatigue, chest pain, or pain in the jaw.
Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Medicine
You could have atrial fibrillation and not even know it. Many people live with atrial fibrillation and don't realize it until they go to their doctor's office and the physician checks their heart with a stethoscope. If you have atrial fibrillation, you may have one or more of the following symptoms:
  • A rapid heartbeat
  • A racing pulse
  • A slow pulse
  • Fluttering or pounding in your chest (palpitations)
  • A heartbeat that feels chaotic or irregular
  • A regular pulse
  • Difficulty catching your breath
  • Feeling faint or dizzy
  • Fatigue
These symptoms can stop and go without any medical treatment. If you notice any of these symptoms, let your doctor check out your heart. Getting the right treatment and atrial fibrillation medication is important to prevent blood clots and stroke.

Continue Learning about Atrial Fibrillation Symptoms

Could I have atrial fibrillation without having symptoms?
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Know the Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation
Know the Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.