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JAMA Patient Page
June 1, 2021

Atrial Fibrillation

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Cardiology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois
JAMA. 2021;325(21):2218. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.23700

Atrial fibrillation is an irregular and often rapid heart rate.

The heart has 4 chambers through which blood flows before being sent to the rest of the body to deliver oxygen and vital nutrients. The top 2 chambers are the atria and are important in helping blood reach the bottom 2 chambers, the ventricles. The right ventricle squeezes blood into the lungs to pick up oxygen, while the left ventricle distributes the blood to the rest of the body. Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a condition in which the electrical signals in the atria are rapid and disorganized, producing an irregular heartbeat. The most serious of possible consequences of AF are stroke and heart failure.

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