Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial Fibrillation – Disease Overview



At future Genetics we want to engage with people and patients so that they can better understand diseases and illnesses that are relevant to them. The information provided here is for educational purposes only. Please always see your doctor for any concerns you may have.

My name is Alice and I am a research scientist. Today I am going to summarise atrial fibrillation, I’ll begin by giving you an overview of the disease and then move on to talk about the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment and complications that are associated with atrial fibrillation.


  • paroxysmal atrial fibrillation – usually stops within 48 hours if left untreated
  • persistent atrial fibrillation – atrial fibrillation lasts for longer than 7 days if left untreated
  • long-standing persistent atrial fibrillation – where you have had continuous atrial fibrillation for a year or longer
  • permanent atrial fibrillation – where atrial fibrillation presents all the time

A normal heart rate should be between 60 and 100 beats a minute when you’re resting and it should be regular.

You can measure your heart rate by feeling the pulse in your neck or wrist, or by using a blood pressure monitor [use blood pressure monitor]

In atrial fibrillation the heart rate can be much higher than 100 bpm.

This can cause problems including dizzinessshortness of breath and tiredness.

People with atrial fibrillation often describe noticeable heart palpitations, where your heart feels like it’s pounding, fluttering or beating irregularly, often for a few seconds it can however last as long as a few minutes.   

Sometimes atrial fibrillation does not cause any symptoms and a person who has it is completely unaware that their heart rate is irregular.

If you notice any change in your heart beat or your heart rate is consistently outside the range I stated earlier, then I urge you to go and speak to your GP