AF Association
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Cardiomyopathy - the often ignored danger of AF

The following is from - though it is stated elsewhere on the web in less detail.


A second problem that atrial fibrillation causes is a weakening of the heart muscle, called cardiomyopathy. Specifically, if atrial fibrillation causes the ventricles to beat rapidly (tachycardia) for a long time, the muscle of the ventricles may fatigue and weaken. The problem becomes more serious if the patient has other heart diseases. The time it takes to develop tachycardia-induced cardiomyopathy may be several weeks to months. However, it doesn't happen in hours, or usually even days. Even without other heart disease, rapid heart rates may lead to heart failure with these symptoms: shortness of breath, weakness, fatigue, and exercise intolerance (tiring easily with activity). Cardiomyopathy occurs in fewer than one in every five people who have long-term atrial fibrillation. The risk of developing cardiomyopathy, however, stresses the importance of using medication to slow the electrical impulses traveling from the atria to the ventricles.

5 Replies

elmbury, Yes this is another of the conditions that can be caused by AF. In another thread we were talking about the weakening of the heart muscle, thickening of the atria walls and enlargement of the atria which all can cause other heart conditions. I understand their statement about slowing down the heart rate but never could do it. For the 10 years that I was given metoprolol only my heart rate decreased from 185 during an attack down to about 150 to 160 during an attack. Although it was slower, it was still fast enough over time to cause weakening of the heart. The method that worked for me for a long time was the rhythm control meds. They actually stopped the attacks from happening. Meds just work different for everyone. I am so happy that I had the ablation and hopefully will be off of all of them soon.

Thanks for the article,



That is good news Tim.

It does seem as though for some the link between AF and stroke is the only one they are made aware of, and it is worth making everyone aware of the other effects, even if they are much rarer.


elmury, It's just amazing how much the Drs don't tell you. Just "You have AF, take these pills and see me again in 6 months". For everything that goes with that diagnosis, you're on your own!



Thanks Elmbury, information is so powerful for us all.

I have marginal cardiomyopathy, and the cardio said no-one can tell if the myopathy causes the A Fib, or the A Fib the myopathy. I understand in my case this is difficult as I do not get the very fast attacks which would lead to myopathy, but nevertheless as someone who has propbably been in permament A Fib for at least 5 years, I do worry about what damage it is doing, even if the cardio says none.

So even without tachycardia just what damage does permament long term A Fib do?, It seems an unanswered question to me,

Great post thanks



dont let fear dominate you.

Mayo Clinic found that a/fibbers lived on average as long as non a/fibbers. Taking care of your general health with not smoking, not over drinking, intelligent nutrition, moderate exercise and keeping your stress levels as low as possible are important ways of keeping your heart healthy, with or without a/fib


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