Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) in Seniors

Atrial Fibrillation, commonly known as AFib, is a heart rhythm disorder that occurs when the heart’s upper chambers (atria) beat irregularly and out of sync with the lower chambers (ventricles). This irregular heartbeat can lead to various health complications and increases the risk of stroke and heart failure. AFib affects millions of people worldwide and is considered one of the most common heart rhythm disorders.
Older man sitting on the couch holding his heart due to AFib in seniors

What Are Common Causes of AFib?

The common causes of AFib can vary, but the most common triggers include high blood pressure, heart disease, abnormalities in the heart structure, and heart attacks. Other factors that contribute to the development of AFib include obesity, diabetes, sleep apnea, chronic kidney disease, and excessive alcohol or caffeine consumption. In some cases, AFib can also be caused by genetic factors or be idiopathic, meaning the cause is unknown.
Older woman sitting on the couch holding her heart due to AFib in seniors

Symptoms of AFib in Seniors

The symptoms of AFib can range from mild to severe, and some individuals may not experience any symptoms at all. Common symptoms of AFib include:
  • Palpitations: A sensation of a rapid, irregular, or pounding heartbeat.
  • Fatigue: Feeling tired or exhausted, even with minimal exertion.
  • Shortness of Breath: Difficulty breathing or catching one’s breath, especially during physical activity or rest.
  • Dizziness or Lightheadedness: Feeling faint or dizzy.
  • Chest Pain: Discomfort or tightness in the chest.
  • Weakness or Confusion: Feeling weak or experiencing mental confusion.
It’s important to note that some individuals may not have noticeable symptoms, which makes regular check-ups and screenings all the more crucial, particularly for those at higher risk.

AFib Treatment Options

Treatment for AFib in senior primary care aims to restore a normal heart rhythm, control heart rate, and reduce the risk of stroke and other complications. The treatment plan may vary depending on the individual’s symptoms, overall health, and the underlying cause of AFib.


Doctors may prescribe medications to regulate the heart's rhythm or control the heart rate. These medications may include anti-arrhythmic drugs, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, or blood thinners to reduce the risk of blood clots and stroke.


In cases where medication is not effective, cardioversion may be an option. This procedure involves delivering an electric shock to the heart under anesthesia to restore a normal heart rhythm.

Catheter Ablation

This minimally invasive procedure is performed by threading thin tubes (catheters) through blood vessels to the heart. It aims to destroy or isolate the abnormal electrical pathways causing AFib in order to restore a normal heart rhythm.

Lifestyle Modification

Lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy weight, managing blood pressure, quitting smoking, reducing alcohol and caffeine intake, and managing stress, may help control AFib symptoms and prevent complications.

Treatment for AFib in Senior Primary Care

it’s important for individuals with AFib to work closely with their healthcare providers to develop an individualized treatment plan based on their specific needs and circumstances. Greater Good Health offers AFib treatment in senior-focused primary care. We offer preventive care and chronic condition management. Find a primary care clinic near you, and contact Greater Good Health today to get started.
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