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HealthInfo Canterbury

Atrial fibrillation (AF)

Atrial fibrillation (often called AF or afib) is a problem with the heart rhythm. Instead of a normal steady heartbeat, the heartbeat is fast and irregular. This type of irregular heartbeat is a common type of heart rhythm problem (arrhythmia). It is caused by a problem with your heart's electrical system.

If you have AF, you may feel your heart racing or extra beats (palpitations). You may also feel short of breath, dizzy or weak. If you have any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your GP. If you have AF, you are more at risk of having a stroke. This is because the AF can cause blood clots to form in the heart. The blood clots can break off and travel to the brain, which can cause a stroke. There are treatments for AF and to reduce the chance of a stroke.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by clinical director, Cardiology, Canterbury DHB. Updated September 2015.

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Page reference: 48126

Review key: HIAFB-25271