Symptoms of atrial fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation (AF) patients can present with a range of symptoms, but these are a poor guide to diagnosis.

AF patients may present with heart failure, myocardial infarction or another ACS, stroke or haemodynamic collapse and a variety of other, typically, non-specific symptoms (Figure 7).32

Common atrial fibrillation symptoms

Figure 7. Common atrial fibrillation symptoms.5

However, 12% to 33% of AF patients are asymptomatic.19,2 On the other hand, AF patients often experience debilitating symptoms despite treatment (Figure 8).2

Prevalence of atrial fibrillation symptoms despite treatment

Figure 8. Prevalence of atrial fibrillation symptoms despite treatment.5

Women tend to experience worse AF symptoms

Women tend to be develop more frequent and severe AF symptoms than men. For instance, women show longer paroxysmal episodes. Moreover, the ventricular response rates during paroxysmal episodes are faster in women than among men.6

The European Society of Cardiology (ESC) and the European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA) guidelines recommend using the modified EHRA symptom scale (Table 4) to quantify the symptomatic burden in clinical practice.5 However, their non-specific nature makes symptoms alone an unreliable guide to diagnosis, the topic of the next section.

Table 4. Modified European Heart Rhythm Association scale for atrial fibrillation symptoms.5

Modified European Heart Rhythm Association scale for atrial fibrillation symptoms

 

Learn about the diagnosis of atrial fibrillation


Other sections to further your understanding in the disease awareness section include:

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