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.
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:
- heart palpitations, which can feel like your heart is beating too fast, has skipped a beat, or is fluttering or pounding
- dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting
- extreme fatigue
- shortness of breath, especially when exerting yourself
- chest pain
What is heart rate like in atrial fibrillation?
What are the types of atrial fibrillation?
There are four types of AFib:
- 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.
- Persistent AFib: Persistent AFib lasts longer than 7 days. This type of AFib typically requires treatment.
- Long-standing persistent AFib: Persistent AFib is continuous for more than 1 week but no more than 12 months.
- 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
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
Many other health conditions can cause similar symptoms to AFib, particularly heart palpitations. These include:
- overactive thyroid
- low blood sugar
- electrolyte imbalances
- mental health conditions like panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder
Other factors that can lead to heart palpitations include:
- excess stress
- very strenuous exercise
- some medications
- caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine use
- drugs such as cocaine or amphetamines
Also, other heart-related conditions can lead to symptoms similar to those of AFib, including:
Generally, the goals of AFib treatment are to:
- restore natural heart rhythm
- lower a high heart rate
- prevent further AFib episodes
- reduce the risk of complications associated with AFib, such as heart failure and blood clots that may lead to stroke
This can be accomplished with medications, lifestyle changes, and sometimes procedures or surgeries.
The medications often used for AFib include:
- antiarrhythmic drugs to restore heart rhythm
- beta-blockers or calcium channel blockers to help manage heart rate
- blood thinners to reduce the risk of blood clots
Various lifestyle changes are also essential for addressing AFib. These are:
- taking steps to manage your weight, if necessary
- engaging in regular physical activity
- adopting a heart-healthy diet
- reducing your stress levels
- avoiding smoking
- reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption
- wearing a CPAP device if you have obstructive sleep apnea
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.