clinical features

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The clinical presentation of atrial fibrillation is highly variable. It can present in the setting of a wide variety of cardiac and non-cardiac conditions (1). Patients may be:

  • asymptomatic
  • can present with symptoms suggesting AF e.g. - palpitations, chest pain, hypotension, dyspnoea, dizziness
  • detected after the patient presents with serious complications of AF such as a stroke, thromboembolism or heart failure

Manual pulse palpation should be performed in patients presenting with the following symptoms of AF to assess for the presence of an irregular pulse that may indicate underlying AF (1):

  • breathlessness/dyspnoea
  • palpitations
  • syncope/dizziness
  • chest discomfort
  • symptoms associated with stroke/TIA


Last reviewed 05/2021