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Your Complete Guide to Atrial Fibrillation

You’ve just been told you have atrial fibrillation (Afib or AF) or atrial flutter. All you can think about is that there is something wrong with your heart!

Atrial fibrillation is a chronic condition, which means that once you have had an episode, you will have another at some point in the future. The good news is that you can live a long, healthy life if your atrial fibrillation is well managed and any medical conditions that trigger or aggravate it are treated.

This guide includes three parts (called modules). The three modules can help you understand, manage and live well with your atrial fibrillation. You can download and print the complete modules or their individual chapters as well as supplementary fact sheets that complement the modules. Also included is a glossary (PDF) of terms you can refer to when going through the guide.

This guide is a joint publication of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society and the Heart and Stroke Foundation. The content was developed by a team of 47 atrial fibrillation experts across Canada. Learn more about who contributed (PDF) and see the reference list (PDF) of resources. 

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Download full module (PDF)

Download full module (PDF)

Download full module (PDF)

Understanding atrial fibrillation
Explains atrial fibrillation, symptoms, causes and diagnosis.
Managing atrial fibrillation
Provides strategies to help you manage atrial fibrillation and reduce stroke risk.
Living well with atrial fibrillation
Provides practical tips to help you stay healthy and find support or medical help.
     
Click on any link below to download individual chapters from each of the modules.
Table of Contents
Download individual chapters (PDF): 
  1. An overview of managing atrial fibrillation
  2. How does the heart work?
  3. What is atrial fibrillation?
  4. What is atrial flutter?
  5. How are atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter the same? How are they different?
  6. What are symptoms of atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter?
  7. Are there different types of atrial fibrillation?
  8. Who can develop atrial fibrillation?
  9. How is atrial fibrillation diagnosed?
  10. Is atrial fibrillation harmful or dangerous? 
Table of Contents
Download individual chapters (PDF): 
  1. An overview of managing atrial fibrillation
  2. What are the goals of managing atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter?
  3. Rate control strategy: How is the heart rate controlled?
  4. Rhythm control strategy: How is the heart rhythm controlled?
  5. Reducing the risk of stroke: How is my stroke risk assessed?
  6. How are blood thinners used to reduce the risk of stroke in atrial fibrillation?
  7. What are the signs of a stroke?
  8. Being realistic when managing atrial fibrillation
Table of Contents
Download individual chapters (PDF): 
  1. An overview of managing atrial fibrillation
  2. What to expect from your atrial fibrillation management plan
  3. Following a healthy lifestyle
  4. Understanding common responses and finding support
  5. Patient stories
Printable fact sheets
Download the supplementary fact sheets (PDF):
  1. Normal sinus rhythm and atrial fibrillation 
  2. Normal sinus rhythm and atrial flutter
  3. Symptoms of atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter
  1. Overview of managing atrial fibrillation
  2. Rate control medicine
  3. Procedures to control the heart rate
  1. Tips: During your clinic or doctor visit
  2. Important points to remember: How to live well with atrial fibrillation

Last modified: December 2015
Last reviewed: December 2015