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.
Typically, a cardioversion (where the heart is given a controlled electric shock to restore normal rhythm) is carried out. At this point, many people feel much better and realise that they hadn't been feeling normal.
People often attribute tiredness and feeling lethargic toageing, but once normal rhythm is restored, they realise that these symptoms were caused by atrial fibrillation.
The most obvious symptom of atrial fibrillation is Palpitations where your heart may feel like it's pounding, fluttering or beating irregularly, often for a few seconds or possibly a few minutes.
As well as an irregular heartbeat, your heart may also beat very fast (often considerably higher than 100 beats per minute).
You can work out your heart rate by checking the pulse in your neck or wrist .
Other symptoms youmay experience if you have atrial fibrillation include:
The way the heart beats in atrial fibrillation reduces the heart's performance and efficiency. This can lead to low blood pressure (hypotension) and heart failure .
You should see your GP immediately if you notice a sudden change in your heartbeat and experience chest pain.
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.