FAQ: What Are the Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib)?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

What are the symptoms of atrial fibrillation (A-fib)?

Expert Answers

Dr. Leslie Kernisan is the author of a popular blog and podcast at BetterHealthWhileAging.net. She is also a clinical instructor in the University of California, San Francisco, Division of Geriatrics.

Symptoms of atrial fibrillation, also called A-fib, can vary. The most common ones are:

  • Racing and/or irregular heartbeat

  • Shortness of breath

  • Dizziness, fatigue, and/or weakness

Some people also experience chest pain, cough, and/or leg swelling (which can be caused by related heart failure), or nausea.

A-fib symptoms are usually due to the heart being less able to pump effectively, because it's beating too fast or not as powerfully. In many people, however, the atrial fibrillation doesn't immediately cause a noticeable decrease in heart function. These people may not experience any symptoms at all from atrial fibrillation, especially if the A-fib doesn't cause them to have a particularly fast heartbeat.