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What are the symptoms of AF?

Palpitations

Otherwise known as awareness of the heartbeat, palpitations are the most common symptom of AF. They may be rapid. The term 'palpitations' can mean different things to different people but it generally refers to feeling that something is abnormal about the heartbeat.

Tiredness

The causes of tiredness may be difficult to isolate or pin down, but this can mean anything from a general lack of energy and decreased exercise tolerance to chronic fatigue. Sometimes, if antiarrhythmic medication can cause tiredness. Tiredness may also be a feature of people who have AF alongside heart failure.

Shortness of breath

Breathlessness can be mild to acute, and can be due to rapid ventricular activity.

Dizziness or lightheadedness

Blackout (syncope)

Chest pain or discomfort (angina)

Sleep disturbance or insomnia

No symptoms at all

This can be the case even for people with permanent AF. It is important that AF is diagnosed quickly, but often it is only discovered at a routine medical examination or accidentally after presenting at a GP surgery with an unrelated health problem. The patient may have been already suffering with it unknowingly for several years. Sometimes it may be only discovered at an A&E department in a patient who has presented with a stroke, the very condition that medication could have prevented.