Understanding the Progression of AFib

Understanding the Progression of AFib

Will My AFib Get Worse over Time? Recent Research Reveals the Answer

Those with AFib, also known as Atrial Fibrillation, have an abnormal heart rhythm within the upper heart chambers. Patients with this condition suffer from side-effects that range from severe to mild and include heart palpitations, shortness of breath, fatigue, loss of energy, swollen hands and feet, chest pain or pressure. Some patients suffer from severe symptoms, while others don’t have any at all. Most patients have the same question in mind: will my AFib get worse overtime? Recent research offers the answers patients are seeking.

Will my AFib get worse in time?

This condition develops at different rates. Some patients experience sudden starts and stops of the heart in brief episodes before the condition is ever detected. With time, these episodes often get worse and the condition progresses. Once the AFib episodes get worse and persistent, the patient often recognizes the abnormal heart rhythm and seeks treatment, only to be met with an AFib diagnosis.

According to researchers, around 25-40 percent of people will develop AFib that is classified as “persistent”. In some cases, a cardioversion can be used, which uses electrical shock to reset the normal rhythm of the heart. However, in most cases AFib episodes will occur again, and the patients require additional therapy. More often than not, medication is prescribed as a means of treating the condition. Successful treatment is seen in 75-83 percent of patients, but more than one treatment method is often required. Those with success from medication alone fall within the percent range of 10-40.


When does AFib get worse?

According to studies, AFib typically progresses rapidly within the first year post diagnosis, but in most cases, preventative steps can be used to slow down the progression. Researches stated that prevention of progression is essential, as the further along the condition is allowed to progress, the more difficult it is to manage symptoms and prevent further development of the disease.

There’s a trend seen with progression of this condition, and it tells us the following: for one, if you develop AFib, starting preventative treatment is crucial right away. Secondly, prevention is key all together, as this is more effective in the long run than any available treatments. There are certain risk factors present regarding Afib progression. These include: age, body mass index, heart disease, and additional chronic illnesses.


There’s a scoring system used to predict AFib progression, called the HATCH system. The factors used in this scoring system include: previous transient ischemic attack, stroke, chronic obstruction pulmonary disease, and hypertension. The progression of AFib is determined by the severity of these additional conditions. For those without any additional health concerns, preventing of progression is more effective, but those with high-risk conditions put themselves at greater risk of their AFib getting worse overtime.


everyday Health (Will My Atrial Fibrillation Get Worse? Latest Research on Reducing Risk)

Amy ManleyAmy Manley

Amy Manley is a certified medical writer through the American Medical Writers Association. She has a Bachelor's degree in English and writes to help educate people on various health conditions and how to cope with them.

Sep 9, 2014
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