AFib: Impact on Daily Life
Atrial Fibrillation is associated with a broad range of symptoms which differ from one person to the other. Some people have absolutely no awareness of being in atrial fibrillation, while others know precisely the moment when their heart rhythm changes from normal sinus rhythm to AF. Many patients describe symptoms such as irregular, often rapid pulsations of the heart or an uncomfortable fluttering sensation inside the chest. This may be accompanied by shortness of breath, sweating, chest discomfort or pressure, dizziness, or on rare occasions some people actually pass out. Others may experience activity or exercise intolerance and extreme fatigue.
Some describe a sense of unexplained anxiety, especially when AF is first discovered. For some patients, the pattern of atrial fibrillation may progress from paroxysmal and infrequent events to becoming a persistent condition. Often, there is a worsening or progression of the symptoms such that many patients feel incapable of carrying out normal daily activities.
Because AF is so unpredictable, patients are often reluctant to travel and may even avoid committing to social engagements. Frequent trips to the hospital for repeated episodes of atrial fibrillation can completely disrupt one's life, causing significant emotional and physical distress to patients and families alike.