Atrial Fibrillation and Stroke: What’s the Connection?

Find out how atrial fibrillation can cause serious complications including stroke.

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common type of irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia, and a condition that can cause complications as serious as stroke.

Understanding Atrial Fibrillation
When someone suffers from AF, the irregular beating of the upper chambers (the atria) of his or her heart can cause the movement of blood to slow and blood to pool. This in turn, raises the risk of blood clotting, which increases the likelihood of having a stroke. This condition can come and go or be a chronic problem. The American Heart Association estimates that approximately 15 to 20 percent of people who have strokes have AF.

Guarding Against Stroke
Treatment for AF is important. The American Heart Association states that untreated, atrial fibrillation increases a person's risk of stroke between four and five fold. Treatment, which involves restoring a regular heartbeat and addressing any underlying issues, is dependent on the patient's individual circumstances. Tactics may include making healthy dietary changes, losing weight, limiting alcohol and/or caffeine consumption, choosing not to smoke, exercising regularly, taking prescription blood thinning medication or undergoing a medical procedure or surgery. Cardioversion can reset the rate and rhythm of the heart. Cardiac ablation or a Maze procedure can help remedy problematic areas of the heart.

To learn more about atrial fibrillation or stroke, visit our Health Information page online or talk with your doctor. Medical Center Arlington is certified by Joint Commission as a Primary Stroke Center and has an on-site dedicated Stroke Team. If you would like to schedule an appointment with us, please call 1-855-868-6262 for a physician referral.

Related Posts:
Recognizing the Signs of Heart Disease
Stroke Knowledge is Crucial

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