Answers to Common Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib) Questions

Premier Health providers answer frequently asked questions about atrial fibrillation.

I have A Fib. What should I do when my heart begins to race?

Premier Health’s Dr. Mark Krebs gives advice to patients with atrial fibrillation (A Fib) when their hearts race. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.


For some patients with atrial fibrillation, symptoms are intermittent. Because symptoms may come and go without intervention, people may think they are not serious. However, it is not always safe to assume that symptoms will dissipate on their own.

As Dr. Krebs advises, people who have been experiencing a racing heartbeat—a pulse of 120 beats (or more) per minute—for more than one hour should contact their doctor or go to the emergency room. Atrial fibrillation that continues for a sustained period of time deprives your entire body of oxygen, contributing to conditions like chronic fatigue and sleep apnea as well as raising your risks for life-threatening events like congestive heart failure and stroke. It is vital that a person get the medication and/or interventions they need to restore a normal heart rhythm.

People with atrial fibrillation should also seek immediate medical care if they experience:

  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms
  • Pressure or fullness in the jaw, neck and/or upper back
  • Numbness or weakness in the face or one side of the body
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Sudden loss of vision
  • Sudden severe headache

These symptoms often precede a heart attack or stroke, and immediate intervention is essential to minimizing long-term damage.

For more information about symptoms of atrial fibrillation, talk with your health care provider. 

Learn more:

Source: Kevin Kravitz, MD, Dayton Heart Center; Mark E. Krebs, MD, Miami Valley Cardiologists; Abdul Wase, MD, The Premier Heart Associates; Sameh Khouzam, MD, Dayton Heart Center

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