The exact cause of atrial fibrillation is unknown, but it's more common with age andaffects certain groups of people more than others.
Atrial fibrillation is common in people with other heart conditions, such as:
It's also associated with other medical conditions, including:
However, not everyone with atrial fibrillation has one of the conditions above. It can sometimes affect people who are physically very fit, such as athletes.
When no other conditions are associated with atrial fibrillation, it's known as lone atrial fibrillation.
Certain situations can trigger an episode of atrial fibrillation, including:
Atrial fibrillation is a heart condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate. In atrial fibrillation, the heart rate is irregular and can sometimes be very fast. In some cases, it can be considerably higher than 100 beats a minute.
Some people with atrial fibrillation, particularly older people, don't have any symptoms. The abnormality in heart rhythm is often only discovered during routine tests or investigations for another condition.
The exact cause of atrial fibrillation is unknown, but it's more common with age and affects certain groups of people more than others. Atrial fibrillation is common in people with other heart conditions.
Checking and assessing your pulse can give you a good indication of whether you have atrial fibrillation, but a full medical investigation will be needed before a diagnosis can be made.
Treatments for atrial fibrillation include medications to control heart rate and reduce the risk of stroke, and procedures such as cardioversion to restore normal heart rhythm.
People with atrial fibrillation are at increased risk of having a stroke. In extreme cases, atrial fibrillation can also lead to heart failure.
Frances, 57, was diagnosed with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation and keeps her heart rate under control with flecainide. Every day, I experience extra heartbeats called ectopic beats, but they're nothing to worry about.
Rupert, 78, is a theatre director and regularly goes to the gym. In 2007, he was diagnosed with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. "Atrial fibrillation hasn't stopped me from working as a theatre director. In fact, it hasn't affected my life at all." says Rupert.