AFib (AF), Atrial fibrillation, Diagnosis, Healthcare, Heart Diseases, Heart Health

What Does AFib Feel Like? 7 Patient Stories

7 different insights into what does AFib feels like

Living with AFib (atrial fibrillation) can be daunting. But, getting diagnosed with it can be even more terrifying. It’s essential to identify the problem on time and receive adequate treatment. Failing to manage the condition can put your life in danger. The question is, what does AFib feel like? 

What are the signs, and how can you know you have them? If you recently heard of the condition and have no clue what to expect, you’ve come to the right place. We compiled plenty of patient stories that will give you a detailed insight into how it is to live with AFib. 

What Is AFib?

AFib is the most prevalent cardiovascular disorder that throws the heart rhythm off balance.

It occurs when the electrical signals of the cardiovascular system start to muddle and mess with the normal heart functions.

That’s why some people may experience a fluttering sensation or accelerated heart rate. 

As a result, it starts to affect every aspect of a patient’s life, including both their emotional and physical health, explains the American College of Cardiology. The problem is, that not everyone experiences AFib the same way. That’s why it’s important to take a look at other experiences and learn more about the condition. 

What Does AFib Feel Like?

There are a lot of people who wonder what AFib feels like. The truth is that AFib is different for everyone. 

For most patients, the condition causes a faster heartbeat.

Which is why they feel thumping or thudding in the chest. The heart will beat faster for a prolonged period. 

Other patients may experience fluttering, jumping, or palpitations. Followed by chest pain and sweating. These are very similar signs to a heart attack. In other cases, the pulse becomes weak or erratic which can cause dizziness, exhaustion, and weakness, reports show. Here is how various patients experienced the condition for the first time. 

1. Shortness of Breath

Bill McKee, a financial planner in his late 60s, was diagnosed with AFib in 2016. He took cholesterol medications for 25 years – way before he was diagnosed with a heart condition. He says he expected to experience heart problems when he got older. It ran in the family. 

Some people will feel their heart flutter, but he didn’t. When he got diagnosed, the nurses noticed his quickened heart rate. It was 166 beats per minute, explains Bill. But he didn’t feel anything. The only thing he did notice was the lack of breath.

2. Racing Heart Rate

For Jimmy McFarland, a 43-year-old patient recently diagnosed with AFib, the experience was completely different. He had a quickened heart rate ever since he was a teenager, which made the condition difficult to detect. 

In his 30s, he started experiencing episodes from time to time and would last for a few days. Eventually, they got worse and lasted for months. He struggled with erratic heart rate and unpredictable episodes.

3. Persistent Chest Pain and Trouble Breathing

Some patients may experience worse symptoms than others. That was the case with Dr. John Mandrola, an esteemed cardiac electrophysiologist who got diagnosed with AFib. His first episodes were bearable. But, with time, he started experiencing unrelenting pain in the ribs and chest that made breathing incredibly difficult. Then, the episodes would get worse, leading to increased body heat, dizziness, sweating, and blurry vision. 

4. Feeling a Little Off

Melissa Duncan, another patient with AFib, had a somewhat unusual experience. Instead of the typical chest pain or lack of breath, she just felt a little off. Her anxiety started kicking in, and she felt sick to her stomach. Then, the blood pressure started dropping, which for Melissa was a red flag. 

5. No Signs at All

For certain individuals, AFib doesn’t cause any obvious signs. That was the case with Rosalie Linver Ungar. Since her family had a history of cardiovascular issues, she believed to be a candidate. She only got an appointment for a check-up and ended up getting diagnosed with AFib. 

6. Regular Heart Flips and Lack of Energy

Over seven years ago, Victor Lance got diagnosed with AFib. He was an active Marine for over 20 years, and the condition started dragging him down. For Victor, the signs were evident. The quickened heart rate, chaotic rhythm, and improper heart function made it difficult for him to lead an active life. The condition limited his physical activity. 

7. Constant Fast Heart Beat

Mike Dennis was already experiencing AFib for an entire month when he got diagnosed. He measured 150-180 heartbeats per min for a couple of weeks. He had to receive urgent medication but struggled to find the right treatment. Eventually, doctors got the condition under control. 


AFib is different for everyone. But, what’s important is to get diagnosed and start with treatment as soon as possible. Don’t wait for weeks to get treated. If you don’t experience the symptoms, but believe to be a candidate for heart conditions, it is best to book a doctor’s appointment. Getting ahead of the condition should be your top priority. 

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