Living with Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is a chronic disease that cannot be cured. However, modern treatments can give most people living with atrial fibrillation an excellent quality of life.

Like any health problem, living with atrial fibrillation can be disruptive and frustrating because it can make you feel unwell, limit your everyday activities, and take up a lot of your time and energy.

As you learn to live with atrial fibrillation, expect to go through many different feelings and emotions.

The following pages cover some of the things you can do to live well with atrial fibrillation.

Illustration showing how to check your pulse on the inside of your wrist
How to Check Your Pulse
Place two fingers on the inside of your wrist below your thumb.
Count the beats for 30 seconds. Double the result to get the number of beats per minute. At the same time, check how regular the beats are. 

What to Do If You Have Symptoms

If you feel an irregular or fast heartbeat or if you feel faint or dizzy:

  • Sit or lie down immediately.
  • Call your family, caregiver or neighbours for help.
  • Take your pulse to find out if it is fast, regular or irregular.

In most cases, the symptoms will settle by themselves after a short time, and you will be able to carry on as normal. In fact, many patients tell us that they rarely have to do anything more than rest for short periods when they have symptoms.

If you continue to feel faint or dizzy for a prolonged period of time or you become short of breath or feel chest pain, call 9‑1‑1 for an ambulance to take you to the nearest emergency department.

If you have questions, the nursing coordinator is available anytime day or night at: 613-696-7000, press 0 and ask for the nursing coordinator.