Heart Prototype

What is atrial fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation is the cardiac arrhythmia of the 21st century

Currently, atrial fibrillation (also called AF) is one of the most common cardiac arrhythmias. Although it is not life-threatening, it must be treated in order to prevent further damage. So, what exactly is heart disease and what are the symptoms?

What is known about AF so far:

  • Atrial fibrillation causes electrical disturbances in the atria
  • Atrial fibrillation often causes a high and irregular heartbeat
  • According to patients, atrial fibrillation reduces their quality of life
  • This heart disease occurs in both older and younger people
  • Atrial fibrillation increases the risk of stroke and heart failure
  • The origin of atrial fibrillation is still unclear
  • Current treatments work only in 50% of patients

What happens during atrial fibrillation?

In order to understand atrial fibrillation, you first need more background information surrounding the heart. This is, after all, the largest, most important muscle in our bodies.

The heart muscle has 4 cavities and pumps blood throughout the body. The upper two cavities are called the atria, the lower two cavities are called the ventricles. They are separated by the heart valves.

During atrial fibrillation, electrical currents in the atrial disrupt the atrial rhythm. As a result, the atria and ventricle do not contract evenly, resulting in a rapid, irregular heartbeat. Oxygen deficiency occurs in the heart muscle, causing the patient to experience chest pain.

Is atrial fibrillation dangerous?

AF is not directly and strictly life-threatening, but it does increase the risk of other conditions. For example, people with atrial fibrillation are five to seven times more likely to have blood clots or a stroke. The cardiac arrhythmia can also cause heart failure and damage to the atrial heart cells.

Atrial fibrillation increases the risk of:

  • A stroke
  • Heart failure
  • Damage to the atrial heart cells
What are the symptoms of atrial fibrillation?

Common symptoms of AF are:

  • Palpitations
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath

Unfortunately it’s challenging to directly associate symptoms with AF. We always recommend you to see your doctor in case you suspect having AF.

Wat is de oorzaak van boezemfibrilleren?

There is no single clear cause of atrial fibrillation. However, there are several risk factors that are known to increase the risk of heart disease.

Risk factors:

  • Aging
  • An unhealthy lifestyle
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart valve abnormality
  • Disturbed thyroid function
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Atrial fibrillation occurs more often in men than in women
How is atrial fibrillation diagnosed?

Atrial fibrillation can occur in two different ways. The arrhythmia can be present in attacks (paroxysmal) or on the other hand, it may take place continuously (persistent/permanent).

If you think you may be suffering from atrial fibrillation, it can be swiftly determined with an electrocardiogram or a Holter. There are however few cases in which these methods are not effective, and other means of diagnosis are needed.

How is atrial fibrillation treated?

Taking into account the severity of the repercussions of atrial fibrillation, treatment is paramount.

Currently, there are three treatments available: drugs, ablation and cardioversion. Moreover, you can reduce risk factors by implementing changes in your lifestyle.

GGA and L-Glutamine as potential new AF treatments

Unfortunately, atrial fibrillation relapses happen far too often. This is why we are making an effort to investigate new, promising treatments such as GGA and L-Glutamine.

Share this article


L-Glutamine study

L-Glutamine restores energy levels and allows for potentially increased protection against atrial fibrillation.


GGA study

This medicine aids in the reparation of cell damage and helps protect against atrial fibrillation in experimental models.

Man in Lab


Genetic AF clinic

We heard you. A significant number of AF patients indicated AF runs in the family and now we’re opening Europe’s first genetic AF clinic.

Agnes Muskens verpleegkundige stichting AFIP


Agnes Muskens

Because of your donation AFIP was able to hire Agnes: our patient communication superstar.

Related articles

The Role of Desmin Variants In Familial Atrial Fibrillation

The Role of Desmin Variants In Familial Atrial Fibrillation
Written by: Wei Su , , , ,

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common sustained cardiac arrhythmia in the Western world. AF is closely correlated with traditional risk factors. Traditional risk factors include lifestyle related hypertension, diabetes

Miles Henderson describes PPG technology to detect atrial fibrillation

Weighing the Effectiveness of Photoplethysmography Signal Analysis in Population Diagnosis of Atrial Fibrillation

Weighing the Effectiveness of Photoplethysmography Signal Analysis in Population Diagnosis of Atrial Fibrillation
Written by: Prof. Dr. Bianca Brundel ,

Review paper by Miles Henderson, biomedical student at the Amsterdam University College. Photoplethysmography has become an accessible component of smartwatches in recent years. The primary advantage of these devices is

Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) Diagnosis And Treatments Need a New Holistic Approach

Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) Diagnosis And Treatments Need a New Holistic Approach
Written by: Prof. Dr. Bianca Brundel ,

This article has been featured in Nature Reviews Disease Primers. Atrial Fibrillation (AF), is the most common heart disease nowadays, affecting around 7.6 million people only in the EU, most

More about atrial fibrillation


Atrial fibrillation and genetics

Atrial fibrillation and genetics
Written by: Prof. Dr. Bianca Brundel

Last update: 02/20/2023 Atrial fibrillation is genetic in 20% of patients In the genetic variant of atrial fibrillation, there is a gene abnormality. Patients sometimes do not notice the common


COVID-19 and atrial fibrillation

COVID-19 and atrial fibrillation
Written by: Prof. Dr. Bianca Brundel

How does coronavirus affect people with atrial fibrillation? Since February 2020, coronavirus has affected everyone's lives. Nowadays, thanks to the development of vaccines with a portion of the SARS-CoV-2 virus


Atrial fibrillation and stress

Atrial fibrillation and stress
Written by: Prof. Dr. Bianca Brundel

According to patients, stress is the most important factor for the onset of an atrial fibrillation attack A poll conducted on the AFIP website revealed that 25% of the patients

Search for a different topic