What are the symptoms of Afib?
The symptoms of Afib can be subtle or extremely obvious. Before I get into the symptoms of Afib, let me start by sharing a typical story of the events that lead up to the physicals symptoms often felt with Afib. When I do this, people usually identify with all or part of the story, and more easily see how lifestyle plays a significant role in the development of Afib.
John is having a brutal week. Monday, after sitting in traffic, drinking coffee and having a few cigarettes, he arrived to work and noticed someone rummaged through his desk. Optimistically, he wants to believe it was the weekend cleaning service, but he really thinks it was his overbearing boss. His adrenalin immediately began to spike, so he decided to go get another cup of coffee, head outside for a cigarette and try to settle down. Later that day, he had a meeting with his group and learned of more personnel and performance issues. Once again...the week was off to a great start.
Tuesday and Wednesday were much the same...interrupted sleep at night, worrying about his work, didn’t have time for lunch or eating well, attended meeting after meeting, and had phone call after phone call. In addition, he found out his mom is sick and wasn’t sure when he could find time to go see her.
Thursday, it was his wife’s birthday. The day at work was “normal.” He felt he was doing the job of two and still couldn’t keep up. Then, around 4:00, his boss informed him he must attend a client dinner, which meant canceling the reservations he made for dinner with his wife.
Friday came, and he was simply just trying to get to the finish line. He looked back and described his week like this: Besides the client dinner, I mostly ate chips, snacks, and anything I could grab on the go. I smoked about 3 packs this week, which was typical. I had a few drinks each evening. My sleep was light at best. I didn’t exercise, which I haven’t done for years. I drank a ton of coffee, didn’t drink much water...all which seem so typical of my life.
So Friday night he took his wife out for her “birthday” dinner. They had cocktails, shared a bottle of wine, had their favorite Italian dish, got home late, enjoyed the rest of the night before turning off the switch….the end to yet another, brutal week.
Saturday, it all seemed to catch up with him. He woke up with many symptoms of Afib. He was feeling exhausted, with chest pressure, restlessness and a feeling of unsettledness, he was light headed, there was a fluttering and pounding feeling in his chest, he was anxious and stressed, his heart beat felt fast and irregular, he was urinating more frequently, and he was short of breath. His heart had enough...
After a week like this, which unfortunately is similar to the lives of most people I talk to - he ended up with another bout of Afib. The symptoms of Afib described above are typical. Some people experience all of the symptoms of Afib and others experience few, if any at all.
The reason I share this story is because Afib is a lifestyle condition. The symptoms of Afib are important to know, but the life we live is what really needs the work. Examine your lifestyle. The health and wellness community, in addition to the medical community, are an amazing resource in dealing with the symptoms of Afib. There is a lot you can do in almost all areas of life that can minimize the burden of Afib. I contend, aside from the few where a reason can not be pinpointed, lifestyle is what creates the recipe for Afib in 99% of those who have this condition.
The symptoms of Afib are easy to list here, but remember the symptoms are the signs your body is giving you that things in your life need to be changed. Know the symptoms of Afib, but even more important - seek ways to manage your atrial fibrillation and ultimately reduce your risk of stroke.