Answers to Common Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib) Questions

Premier Health providers answer frequently asked questions about atrial fibrillation.

Does having atrial fibrillation (A Fib) increase the risk of stroke?

Premier Health’s Dr. Mark Krebs explains the link between atrial fibrillation (A Fib) and stroke risk. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

   

While intermittent (paroxysmal) atrial fibrillation (A Fib) itself is not harmful, the heart’s compromised ability to pump blood presents serious health risks, including a significant increased risk for stroke.

During atrial fibrillation, the upper chambers of the heart (atria) beat so fast (between 100 and 300 times per minute) that they are quivering. The muscle does not fully contract, so blood is not effectively pumped from the atria to the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles). As a result, blood pools in the atria, allowing clots to form. If a clot breaks off, it may travel to other parts of the body.

As Dr. Krebs explains, because 50% of the blood flow goes to the head, a blood clot in the brain is likely. When a blood clot deprives the brain of oxygen, a stroke occurs and may cause permanent damage, including:

  • Loss of vision
  • Loss of motor function
  • Loss of cognitive function (e.g. memory, information processing)
  • Loss of speech

According to StopAfib.org, the risk of stroke increases five-fold for people with atrial fibrillation. StopAfib.org also reports that 1/3 of patients with atrial fibrillation will actually experience a stroke. Other studies show that the prognosis for people with A Fib who suffer a stroke are poor; patients are more likely to suffer long-term disability and require constant nursing care. To learn more about reducing the risk of A Fib-related stroke speak with your health care provider, and ask if a left atrial appendage closure (LAAC) with the WATCHMAN device, is right for you. 

Learn more:

Source: Kevin Kravitz, MD, Dayton Heart Center; Mark E. Krebs, MD, Miami Valley Cardiologists; Abdul Wase, MD, The Premier Heart Associates; Sameh Khouzam, MD, Dayton Heart Center

Schedule an appointment

To schedule an appointment with a Cardiologist, call (866) 608-FIND(866) 608-FIND or complete the form below to receive a call from our scheduling department to make an appointment.