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9 Symptoms and Warning Signs of Atrial Fibrillation

When the heart beats, it contracts and relaxes to a regular rhythm. When people have atrial fibrillation (AFib), the upper chambers of the heart (the atria) contract very rapidly and irregularly—out of coordination with the two lower chambers (the ventricles). This condition is known as arrhythmia. Some of the signs and symptoms of AFib include:

Fatigue and Shortness of Breath

AFib can leave one feeling tired and worn down, particularly if their heart isn’t pumping enough oxygenated blood to the rest of the body. One may also feel out of breath, especially during physical activity.


If one has AFib, they may feel a racing sensation in their chest or notice that their heart is beating irregularly. The affected individual may also feel like their heart is skipping beats, fluttering, or pounding (a feeling known as palpitations).

Weakness or Dizziness

AFib can cause low blood pressure and reduce blood flow to the brain and body, which can make one feel weak or dizzy.

Chest Pain

Chest discomfort is a common symptom of arrhythmias, such as AFib. Constant chest pain should be addressed immediately.

Pressure in The Chest

This may feel like pressure or squeezing in the chest. This symptom is called angina and is caused by reduced blood flow to the heart muscle due to a blocked artery.


AFib episodes often trigger excessive sweating along with palpitations, weakness, and dizziness.

Confusion or Impaired Thinking

If one has AFib, they may experience confusion or cognitive problems during an episode. This is often accompanied by fatigue.

Difficulty Exercising

Exercise intolerance is a common and serious symptom that often occurs with AFib. This is because AFib causes the heart to beat irregularly, which can lead to blood pooling in the upper chambers of the heart (the atria). Blood pooling in the heart can cause clots, which can, in turn, travel throughout the body, potentially causing a stroke.

Thumping or Fluttering in The Chest

A common symptom of AFib is fluttering or thumping in the chest. This sensation may feel like the heart is pounding or skipping a beat from time to time.