Get the AFib Facts
Live Healthy magazine (2016, May)
Get the AFib Facts
Atrial Fibrillation, also known as AFib, is a condition in which the heart’s upper chambers aren’t pumping blood to the lower chambers, causing blood to pool. This pool could form into a blood clot. If the blood clot breaks off and travels to the brain, it may block or limit blood flow, causing a stroke.
According to the American Heart Association, AFib is the most common "serious" heart rhythm abnormality in people over the age of 65 years and people with the condition are five times more likely to have a stroke than someone who doesn’t have AFib. How do you know if you have AFib?
Some signs and symptoms of AFib are:
Feelings that your heart is skipping a beat, fluttering or beating too hard or fast
Shortness of breath
Fatigue (feeling tired)
However, AFib doesn’t always make it’s self known, and may be discovered during a physical exam. Whether or not you are experiencing symptoms, AFib increases your risk for stroke, and you need to know how to protect yourself.
If you experience any of the following symptoms suddenly, this may be an early warning sign of a stroke:
Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
Severe headache with no known cause
Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
Numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially in one side of the body
F.A.S.T. is an easy way to remember the sudden signs of stroke: Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 9-1-1.*
Research shows that you give yourself the best odds for AFib prevention by maintaining a healthy weight.** And maintaining a healthy weight leads to other lifestyle changes that may prevent strokes, like:
Getting regular physical activity
Eating a heart-healthy diet, low in saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol
Controlling high blood pressure
Not smoking, or quitting if you do smoke
Making positive lifestyle choices is the key to reducing your risk for AFib and stroke.
Talk to your doctor immediately if you have any concerns about atrial fibrillation or stroke.
*American Stroke Association