Atrial fibrillation is a common heart rhythm disturbance. You may already have been diagnosed as having atrial fibrillation perhaps by your GP through a routine accidental health check. Alternatively you may be getting palpitations with your heartbeat feeling very irregular with atrial fibrillation as a possible diagnosis.
Atrial fibrillation occurs due to a disturbance of the heart rhythm of one of the chambers of the heart (the left atrium). Atrial fibrillation can cause palpitations that can make a patient feel very uncomfortable. Although these symptoms are troublesome they can be controlled with certain medications to control the heart rate or try and keep the heart rhythm normal.
The main risk with atrial fibrillation is that it can potentially increase the risk of a patient developing a stroke. Not everybody with atrial fibrillation is at risk of a stroke and having other risk factors such as a previous stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure or over a certain age (65 years) can increase your stroke risk. If you have atrial fibrillation with risk factors for stroke it may be necessary to start treatment to keep the blood thin. This is called anticoagulation and there are two types of anticoagulants: novel anticoagulants (NOAC) or warfarin therapy.