Learning How Long Do You Live With AFib

By Alley Benton
Updated February 2, 2017
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Learning How Long Do You Live With AFibWhen people are first diagnosed of having atrial fibrillation (AFIB), one of the first things they usually ask is "how long do you live with AFIB?". This is a reasonable question because the condition affects the heart, and we all know that heart problems are killer problems. Unfortunately, the question is not that easy to answer. This is because AFIB often starts as a benign condition, slowly progressing and becoming far more serious. But in some people, it never does that at all. Hence, the answer to the question really would be: "it depends".

Understanding How Long Do You Live with AFIB:

You need to see AFIB as a disease in stages. Usually, at the first stage, the signs and symptoms of atrial fibrillation simply start to disappear, with people only noticing them for a few minutes. As it progresses, however, people will start to need medication to make it go away. Most people will tell you that in the early stages of the condition, episodes are few and far between and respond almost immediately to medication. Popular pharmaceutical drugs include rhythm control and rate control drugs, particularly if used at the same time as warfarin or coamadin, which are anticoagulant drugs.

However, as the condition progresses and enters further stages, the episodes of AFIB tend to become more frequent. Each episode is also likely to last a longer period of time. Additionally, standard medication tends to become less effective and, in some people, stops working altogether. Eventually, in some people, AFIB episodes become constant.

Once people reach the stage where their AFIB is constant, they often feel increasingly lifeless, weak, and tired. Many, at this point, also become afraid of experiencing more serious effects of the condition. This includes a stroke or congestive heart failure.

Categories of Atrial Fibrillation:

How long you live with AFIB, as you can see, will depend on how the disease progresses. It also depends, however, on the classification or category of AFIB that you have. Those are:

1. Intermittent or paroxysmal episodes, which come and go and last no longer than seven days

2. Persistent, whereby AFIB is continuous, lasting for a period of seven days or more

3. Longstanding persistent, whereby the AFIB is persistent for a period of a full year or more

4. Permanent, whereby patients and doctors come to a mutual agreement that no further medical intervention will be used to restore the normal rhythm of the sinus

So how long do you live with AFIB? As you can see, it depends. What you do need to know, however, is that AFIB is progressive. Hence, you will eventually move into permanent AFIB. How long that takes, however, will depend on a huge variety of factors, and some people may simply die of old age or of any other health condition long before they get to that stage. If you receive an AFIB diagnosis, therefore, do not despair. Rather, follow your doctor's advice and live your life to the fullest with their support, for as long as possible.

* Disclaimer:
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.