Recent Blog Articles
Misgendering: What it is and why it matters
Healthy brain, healthier heart?
Stories connect us
Wondering about a headline-grabbing drug? Read on
Respiratory virus cases tick upward: What parents should know
Hope: Why it matters
Will new guidelines for heart failure affect you?
Want probiotics but dislike yogurt? Try these foods
Is our healthcare system broken?
What’s the relationship between diabetes and dementia?
Zap away atrial fibrillation?
Catheter ablation, a procedure that destroys faulty electrical pathways in the heart, is gaining ground.
Atrial fibrillation — called afib for short — is a rapid, irregular heartbeat caused by errant electrical signals in the heart's upper chambers (atria). This heart rhythm disorder becomes more prevalent with age, affecting about one in 11 people ages 65 and older.
The chaotic heartbeat that characterizes afib usually comes and goes and may last anywhere from a few seconds to many hours — or much longer (see "Atrial fibrillation: Defined by its duration"). Although about 20% of people with afib don't notice any symptoms, it can trigger a range of unsettling problems. These include a fluttering or thumping sensation in the chest, breathlessness, dizziness, anxiety, weakness, fainting, confusion, and fatigue.
To continue reading this article, you must log in.
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.
- Research health conditions
- Check your symptoms
- Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.Sign Me Up
Already a member? Login ».
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.