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Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) Causes & Symptoms

Atrial fibrillation, commonly known as AFib, is a type of irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). It affects almost 3 million people in the US and is often described as a quivering or fluttering feeling in the chest.

Cardiologists at Dignity Health North State offer personal care to diagnose and treat AFib in Northern California. If you’d like to schedule a consultation about your symptoms, use our online search tool and Find a Doctor

If you have severe chest pain or other heart attack symptoms, call 911 for emergency care.


AFib Symptoms

The symptoms of AFib are not always recognizable. Some people don’t even have them. In many cases, your doctor may detect an irregular heartbeat during a routine physical exam.

When symptoms do occur, they can include: 

  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness
  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty exercising or getting easily winded

If you have AFib symptoms, they may be occasional, persistent, or permanent. Talk with a specialist at Dignity Health North State to learn more.


AFib Causes

The main causes of AFib are cardiovascular conditions that damage the heart’s electrical system, such as heart valve disease, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, and birth defects

Risk factors for AFib include: 

  • Family history of AFib
  • Obesity
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Older age
  • Other medical conditions, such as diabetes, sleep apnea, lung disease, and thyroid disease 

AFib Therapy at Dignity Health North State

Treating AFib focuses on restoring a normal heart rate and preventing blood clots from forming in the heart, which can lead to a stroke

To confirm a diagnosis of AFib, your doctor reviews your medical history and risk factors, and then performs a physical exam. He or she may order diagnostic tests, such as an EKG, echocardiogram, stress test, or Holter monitor, to confirm or rule out other causes.

If you’re diagnosed with AFib, your doctor can use several methods to reset your heart rhythm, such as: 

  • Cardioversion using drugs
  • Cardioversion using electric shocks while you’re sedated
  • Catheter ablation to destroy abnormal heart tissue
  • Maze surgery to disperse the abnormal signals 

If these techniques aren’t successful at treating your irregular heartbeat, your doctor may prescribe medicine to manage your condition. Talk with your doctor at Dignity Health North State to learn more about treatment.

Heart doctors at Dignity Health North State offer comprehensive care for AFib in Mt. Shasta, Red Bluff, and Redding, CA.

Find a Doctor at Mercy Mount Shasta, Mercy Medical Center Redding, or St. Elizabeth Community Hospital.