atrial fibrillation


Atrial fibrillation, also known as AF or A-fib, is a type of rapid, irregular heartbeat. It occurs when a storm of electrical impulses spreads through your heart and causes the chambers of the heart (atria) to quiver or contract rapidly.

For some people, A-fib may only last a short time, but it may come back over and over. For others, it can become permanent. This is known as chronic atrial fibrillation. 

Risk factors for A-fib include high blood pressure, heart conditions such as coronary artery disease or congenital heart disease, and health conditions such as obesity and thyroid disease.

A-fib can cause blood clots to form, which can lead to a stroke. It can also weaken the lower chambers of your heart, causing heart failure and other conditions. That’s why it’s important to get treatment.


A-fib symptoms include:

  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue and weakness, especially with physical exertion
  • Palpitations (feeling that your heart is skipping a beat or beating too hard or fast)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling in your feet


To diagnose A-fib, your doctor will ask about your medical history and perform a physical exam. He or she may refer you to a cardiologist, a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating heart conditions, or an electrophysiologist, a cardiologist who specializes in treating A-fib or irregular heartbeats.

Additional tests may include:

services & treatment

The treatment for A-fib depends on how often you have symptoms, their severity and whether you already have heart disease. People who have A-fib but don’t have symptoms may still need treatment.

When A-fib is caused by an underlying risk factor, your doctor may prescribe lifestyle changes, including diet or exercise. Your doctor may also prescribe medications to treat high cholesterol, high blood pressure or thyroid disease. 

In some cases, you may need a procedure to implant a medical device, such as a pacemaker, or have surgery, such as open-heart surgery.

why Aurora?

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Aurora Health Care offers coordinated care for preventing, diagnosing and treating heart and vascular disease. World-renowned heart and vascular specialists diagnose and treat all types of cardiovascular conditions and disorders, using the most advanced state-of-the-art tools and technologies available today. 

We have 15 hospitals and 155 clinics throughout eastern Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois so you can find a location that's closest to you. 

What’s all this mean to you? Convenient, coordinated and expert care.  

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