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Tulane Doctors ~ Heart & Vascular Institute ~ Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial Fibrillation, the most common type of heart arrhythmia, occurs when the heart beats irregularly, or “quivers.”  A normal heart beat contracts and relaxes, but the upper chambers of a heart affected by atrial fibrillation beat out of time, preventing the blood from flowing properly to the rest of the body.  Approximately 2.7 million Americans live with atrial fibrillation. Though atrial fibrillation itself rarely harms people, it puts sufferers at a much higher risk for blood clots, heart failure, or stroke. Many do not take the necessary steps to prevent related complications.


Some people show no signs of atrial fibrillation. It is important when assessing your symptoms to know the differences between the symptoms of atrial fibrillation, heart attack and stroke. If you think you are having a heart attack or stroke, call 911 immediately.

  • chest pain
  • heart “fluttering” or feeling of irregular heart beat
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • heart pain or fatigue while exercising
  • shortness of breath
  • faintness



Though sometimes there is no direct cause of atrial fibrillation, certain risk-factors can greatly increase your chance of developing AF.

  • advanced age
  • a preexisting heart condition
  • high-blood pressure
  • a recent heart surgery
  • sleep apnea
  • heavy drinking
  • any preexisting chronic condition