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Impact of Atrial Fibrillation on Daily Life


Unless you have a very severe case of atrial fibrillation , you should not have to alter your daily activities. But ask your doctor about the risk of making your arrhythmia worse before you engage in a strenuous activity. It is particularly important to discuss any new workout program or participation in competitive sports with your doctor before you begin.

The table below describes some of the ways your life may be affected by your arrhythmia. Although some of these effects may only apply if you have extremely severe atrial fibrillation, you should certainly seek medical advice if you are concerned about your health for any reason.

Impact of atrial fibrillation on your daily life

Aspect of life

Potential impact of atrial fibrillation

Tips for success


Stressful situations can trigger an episode of atrial fibrillation or make your atrial fibrillation worse.

Try to lower the amount of stress at work or with family.

Try meditation and other relaxation techniques when stress is unavoidable.


Most people with atrial fibrillation can continue working.

Avoid strenuous activity and extremely stressful situations at work.

Sexual activity

Most people with atrial fibrillation can lead normal sex lives. However, some medications can cause impotence.

Let your doctor know if you experience symptoms of atrial fibrillation during sexual activities or if you are having problems with impotence. Treatments are available.


Intense exercise may trigger your arrhythmia or make your symptoms worse.

Call your doctor to report any symptoms and avoid strenuous exercise if it causes symptoms.


You can drive unless your doctor advises against it.

Pull over and call your doctor if you start to feel symptoms or become lightheaded while operating a motor vehicle or other machinery.


Discuss all travel with your doctor before leaving on your trips. He or she may be able to refer you to a doctor in the area that you will be visiting.

Bring the name and phone number of your doctor, in case your arrhythmia comes back and you need medical attention. Also, make sure to bring extra medication.


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer John M. Miller, MD - Electrophysiology
Last Revised November 2, 2010

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