Atrial fibrillation causes an irregular heartbeat that’s often faster than usual. People with some types of atrial fibrillation may sometimes have a usual heart rate, while in others, it may remain elevated.

If you have an arrhythmia, your heart can beat too quickly, slowly, or irregularly. Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is an arrhythmia in which your heart beats irregularly and often too quickly.

Some people with AFib may have a typical heart rate. However, this depends on the type of AFib that you have. Keep reading to learn more.

How common is atrial fibrillation?

AFib is the most common type of arrythmia. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 12.1 million people in the United States will be living with AFib by 2030.

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Some people with AFib don’t experience noticeable symptoms. When symptoms are present, they’re often nonspecific, meaning you wouldn’t immediately link them with AFib.

The common symptoms of AFib include:

What is heart rate like in atrial fibrillation?

A standard resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute (bpm). In AFib, the heart rate is usually between 110 and 140 bpm.

However, it may also be higher than 140 bpm, with heart rates as fast as 200 bpm in some cases.

What are the types of atrial fibrillation?

There are four types of AFib:

  1. Paroxysmal AFib: In paroxysmal AFib, your heart rate typically returns to its usual rate within 7 days of an episode. This type of AFib comes and goes, and most episodes resolve within 48 hours.
  2. Persistent AFib: Persistent AFib lasts longer than 7 days. This type of AFib typically requires treatment.
  3. Long-standing persistent AFib: Persistent AFib is continuous for more than 1 week but no more than 12 months.
  4. Permanent AFib: Permanent AFib is continuous and does not respond to treatment.

Can you have a normal heart rate with atrial fibrillation?

Some people, regardless of the type of AFib, will have a standard heart rate while in AFib without any medications.

However, a heart rate in AFib tends to beat faster. Doctors typically prescribe medications for people with heart rates over 100 bpm. Common examples are beta-blockers (like metoprolol) or calcium channel blockers (like diltiazem).

If people continue to have fast heart rates despite rate control medications, doctors may try other rhythm control strategies, such as ablation or cardioversion, to get people out of AFIB.

Can you have a normal EKG with atrial fibrillation?

An EKG assesses the electrical activity of your heart. It’s essential for diagnosing AFib.

An EKG will demonstrate Afib if you are in an Afib rhythm during the test. But you may have a standard result if you have paroxysmal AFib, the kind that comes and goes, and you are not in Afib rhythm during the EKG.

Because of this, if your doctor still suspects that you have AFib, they may monitor the electrical activity of your heart over a more extended period. This is accomplished using devices that monitor your heart over longer periods. For example, a Holter monitor is a portable EKG device worn for 1 to 2 days. A CardioNet device can monitor your heart for up to 30 days.

Many other health conditions can cause similar symptoms to AFib, particularly heart palpitations. These include:

Other factors that can lead to heart palpitations include:

Also, other heart-related conditions can lead to symptoms similar to those of AFib, including:

Generally, the goals of AFib treatment are to:

This can be accomplished with medications, lifestyle changes, and sometimes procedures or surgeries.


The medications often used for AFib include:

Lifestyle changes

Various lifestyle changes are also essential for addressing AFib. These are:

Procedures or surgeries

If medications and lifestyle changes don’t help with your AFib, your doctor may recommend procedures or surgery, including:

People with AFib experience an irregular heartbeat that can be too fast. This can lead to heart palpitations, extreme fatigue, and dizziness.

Sometimes, AFib comes and goes periodically in episodes. People with this type of AFib can have a standard heart rate or EKG results in between episodes. AFib treatments can help to return heart rate to regular levels as well.

Many health conditions can mimic AFib. Contact your doctor if you have frequent or recurring symptoms like heart palpitations, fatigue, or dizziness. They can use your medical history and various tests to determine what’s causing them.