Atrial fibrillation

An overview of Providence Health Care’s services and resources for atrial fibrillation patients.


Atrial fibrillation (also called Afib or AF) is an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia). It affects the heart's top two chambers called the atria. These two collection chambers receive signals to pump blood back into the body. Afib is when those signals are too fast or irregular, making the heart not pump blood as efficiently.

Medical conditions like high blood pressure, heart failure, or sleep apnea, can cause Afib. As we age, our risk for atrial fibrillation increases. Lifestyle factors such as too much alcohol, being overweight, or lack of exercise can also raise your risk.

Everyone is different. Not everyone feels the same thing. Some people are very bothered by their symptoms. Other people might not feel anything at all. Symptoms may include heart palpitations, tiredness, chest discomfort, lightheadedness, and sweating.

You can live a long, healthy life with proper care of the heart rhythm as well as managing any medical condition that triggers or aggravates it. Left untreated, however, it can put you at a higher risk for stroke and heart failure.


Diagnosis & testing

If your heartbeat is fast or irregular, your doctor may test you for AFib. Your doctor will ask questions about your health and lifestyle. This will help diagnose you before doing multiple tests. Learn more about the most common tests below.

Common tests related to Afib


Treatment & management

Treatment and symptom management depend on your symptoms. It also depends on how long you've had Afib and the cause. If you are referred to St. Paul's Hospital, our expert team will help you find the best way to manage the issue.

Clinics that treat atrial fibrillation

Our AFib Clinic treats patients with a recent atrial fibrillation diagnosis. We also help those who need further support managing their symptoms. Use the link below to find all the information you need about this specialized clinic. This includes contact information, the location of the clinic, operating hours, how to prepare and what to expect.

Common atrial fibrillation-related procedures

Support services

Providence Health Care offers a variety of services to support those we care for. The following services may be of use or benefit to you and your families.

Support for Indigenous Peoples

The Indigenous Wellness Liaison Team is here to support your health journey. Team members offer cultural support and healthcare advocacy. Learn more below or call them at 604-682-2344 ext.62937 or email

  • Indigenous wellness services

    The Indigenous Wellness Team at Providence is available to support Indigenous patients and their families. We are here to coordinate culturally safe wellness supports and services.

Clinical trials & research

Advances in treatments for heart disease are all thanks to medical research. While participating in research is a decision you should make in consultation with your care team, there is much activity in this field. Please ask us about our research programs if you’re interested.

By taking part in research, you can help us all learn more about advancing health outcomes and find better ways to help people like you live and thrive. Even if you don't benefit directly, your participation can help care for future patients.

For more information about heart-related research at Providence Health Care, ask your care team or visit Providence Research.

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St. Paul’s Hospital is the lifeline for people in B.C. living with heart disease. We are the provincial referral centre for BC and Yukon’s most complex cardiac cases. We appreciate your support.

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