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Are there different types of atrial fibrillation?

Early on, atrial fibrillation is often intermittent, meaning that it can come and go without warning. There may also be long spells between ‘episodes’. In fact, some people in this early stage of AF may not even be aware they have it, and this 'asymptomatic' AF may only be picked up when they are being tested for another condition.


AF falls into three categories, which also help to describe the progression of the disease.

  1. Paroxysmal AF – (PAF) episodes that stop within 7 days without treatment;
  2. Persistent AF – episodes lasting longer than 7 days, or less when treated;
  3. Permanent or longstanding persistent AF – continuous AF which has occurred for more than one year.