Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is disorganized, rapid electrical discharges in the atria (top chambers), creating an irregular heartbeat in the atria that often does not coordinate with the heartbeat in the bottom chambers (ventricles).
This rhythm can occur in children with normal heart structures and those with congenital heart disease. Learn more about arrhythmias and congenital heart disease.
Symptoms & Signs
The symptoms of atrial arrhythmias vary, ranging from no symptoms at all to:
- shortness of breath
If the atrial arrhythmia is not under control, weakening of the heart muscle and/or blood clot formation in the heart can occur, increasing the risk of stroke.
Management of atrial fibrillation is directed at controlling fast heart rates that can lead to symptoms and overall weakening of the heart muscle, and avoiding blood clots that can lead to stroke.
A variety of cardiac medications and blood thinners may also be prescribed by your cardiologist. On occasion, a cardioversion may be necessary to restore a patient’s normal rhythm.
Ongoing close management with your cardiologist/electrophysiologist is essential. Depending on rhythm control and medical management, lifestyle changes may be individualized.