Atrial fibrillation, sometimes referred to as AF, is a specific heart rhythm disturbance that is caused by chaotic electrical activity in the upper chambers of the heart (atria).
This chaotic activity overrides the natural pacemaker of the heart (sinus node) and causes the heart rhythm to become irregular and often fast. This can result in palpitations which often can be prolonged and uncomfortable. The other concern is that AF can predispose to an increased risk of stroke. Treatment is aimed at reducing or stopping the palpitations by either slowing the heart rate and leaving it irregular or stopping the AF to restore a normal heart rhythm. Both strategies can involve either medication or an ablation procedure or both. The other important part of the treatment is to assess and reduce the risk of stroke. This is usually done with medication.