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Arrhythmia & atrial-fibrillation

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Helping keep you and your heart in sync

A recent study suggests that one-in-four adult Americans over age 40 could develop an irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia. A heart, or cardiac, arrhythmia can mean that your heart beats too fast, or too slow or with an abnormal rhythm. Abnormal heartbeats can cause your heart to pump blood less effectively which results in damage to your organs in need of this blood.

One of the most common types of arrhythmia, or heart rhythm disorder, is atrial fibrillation, or A-fib, where the upper chambers of your heart quiver instead of beating. Other types of arrhythmias can include a heart rate that is beating too fast or too slow. Risk factors for developing an arrhythmia include high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, valve disorders, injury from a heart attack or electrolyte imbalances in the blood such as sodium or potassium.


Some arrhythmias won't have any symptoms and can be detected by your doctor or through diagnostic tests. Symptoms you may have include:

  • Palpitations: a feeling of skipped heartbeats or a fluttering sensation
  • Pounding in the chest
  • Dizziness or feeling lightheaded
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest discomfort
  • Weakness or fatigue (feeling very tired)
 Atrial fibrillation (A-Fib)

Atrial fibrillation, also known as AFib, is a type of cardiac arrhythmia – an irregular beating of the heart. In atrial fibrillation, the two small upper chambers of the heart quiver rather than beat efficiently, resulting in an abnormal heart rhythm and loss of cardiac output. About fifteen to twenty percent of people who have strokes have this heart arrhythmia and stroke occurs four to five times more often with atrial fibrillation. At Novant Health, we're committed to providing you with an accurate diagnosis, treatment and follow up care to get your heart back to normal.

 Other types of arrhythmias

Some of the other types of abnormal heart rhythm disorders include:

  • Tachycardia: A fast heart rhythm with a rate of more than 100 beats per minute
  • Bradycardia: A slow heart rhythm with a rate below 60 beats per minute
  • Supraventricular arrhythmia's: Arrhythmia's that begin in the atria (the heart's upper chambers)
  • Ventricular arrhythmia's: Arrhythmia's that begin in the ventricles (the heart's lower chambers)
  • Bradyarrhythmias: Slow heart rhythms that may be caused by disease in the sinoatrial (SA) node, atrioventricular (AV) node, or HIS-Purkinje network.


Your Novant Health primary care provider or internist can help determine if you are suffering from AFib or other heart rhythm disorder. They will begin with obtaining your medical history and performing a physical exam. You may be sent to a cardiologist for further evaluation and treatment. You may also undergo the following tests or procedures to help determine your heart rhythm and plan your treatment:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG): this test is used to study the heart signal and rhythm.
  • Echocardiogram: this checks the hearts structure and function.
  • Cardiac stress test: this checks the blood flow in the heart
  • Blood work: this checks for thyroid levels, diabetes and possible medical conditions.

At Novant Health, our clinical experts are dedicated to delivering the highest-quality care for heart arrhythmias – from diagnosis to treatment and recovery. Find a Novant Health provider near you.