Atrial Fibrillation

What is Atrial Fibrillation?

Atrial Fibrillation or “AF” is a common irregular Heart Rhythm.

AF is a disorganized and chaotic electrical activity in the upper chambers of the heart (the Atria).



Some people do not have symptoms of AF, yet you may experience:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue or lethargy and
  • Palpitations

Atrial Fibrillation may present one of three ways:

Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation PAF

Occurs intermittently and reverts to a normal rhythm spontaneously without treatment.


Persistent Atrial Fibrillation

Occurs intermittently or continuously for more than a week and is treated by cardioversion or medication.

Permanent AF

Permanent AF is continuous, despite treatment of Medications and/ or Cardioversion.

Your Cardiologist may refer you for further treatment of AF with a Cardiac Electrophysiologist (Dr Shawn Foo, Dr Andy Gavin at Ascot Cardiology) for further assessment and treatment with a procedure called AF ablation.

How is AF diagnosed?

If you are experiencing an abnormal irregular heart rate, then it is best to capture this on a tracing or an ECG.

A consultation with a Cardiologist will lead to an echocardiogram, to assess the structure and pumping function of the heart muscle, the movement of the heart valves and the flow of blood through the coronary arteries of the heart.

A Holter or Event monitor may be required to see what your heart rate and rhythm are and how often an arrhythmia is present when you are carrying out tasks of everyday living.

What can I do to avoid getting AF?

  • Control your high blood pressure
  • Decrease caffeine
  • Remain hydrated
  • Increase physical exertion
  • Modify risk factors such as weight, smoking, and alcohol consumption
  • Learn how to take your pulse manually and be aware of the rate and rhythm of your heart rate. Is it regular or irregular?

Am I at risk of stroke with AF?

AF increases the risk of a blood clot forming inside the heart.

If a clot travels to the brain this could lead to a stroke.

Anticoagulation medication may be prescribed to prevent this from occurring.

What happens if the AF returns?

An ECG, or tracing (from an Apple watch) is required so that your Cardiologist can assess the rate, and rhythm and plan your future treatment.

We recognise that it can be frustrating managing Atrial Fibrillation yet following the guidelines and sharing your experiences with friends and family, will help support you through.

Should you have any issues, concerns, or queries regarding your arrhythmia or treatment, please do not hesitate to contact us at Ascot Cardiology Group.

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Ascot Hospital, Level 3
90 Greenlane East
Remuera, Auckland 1051
PO Box 17264,
Greenlane, Auckland 1546

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