Atrial fibrillation (AFib), a type of irregular heartbeat, can cause blood to pool and move more slowly than usual. This can result in a blood clot, which may cause a stroke.
In AFib, the upper heart chambers, called the atria, beat irregularly. This can result in ineffective movement of blood into the ventricles, or lower heart chambers. The sluggish movement of blood
According to the
The most common symptom of AFib is a quivering heartbeat. Other symptoms
- irregular or rapid heartbeat
- thumping or fluttering feeling in the chest
- general fatigue
- shortness of breath
- confusion or feeling faint
- fatigue while exercising
- pain or pressure in the chest
The brain requires oxygen to function, which the heart delivers through oxygen-rich blood. A stroke occurs when something blocks the blood supply, and therefore, oxygen, from reaching part of the brain or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts.
Symptoms of stroke
- sudden weakness or numbness, especially in one side of the body or face
- sudden severe headache with no obvious cause
- sudden difficulty understanding speech or speaking
- sudden confusion
- sudden loss of balance and coordination, and difficulty walking
- sudden difficulty seeing in one or both eyes
AFib is a leading cause of stroke and is responsible for
Studies have found that AFib is associated with a
Despite the strong link between the two conditions,
Doctors will weigh the risks of stroke against those of bleeding in each individual with AFib to determine the safest and most effective treatment for them.
A healthcare professional may use the
- history of congestive heart failure
- history of hypertension
- history of diabetes
- history of stroke
- history of vascular diseases
A 2016 study suggests that some researchers may have overestimated the association between AFib and stroke.
The researchers dispute that AFib may increase the risk of stroke five-fold and state that other risk factors for stroke may have largely contributed to their assessment. They suggest that when other multiple risk factors are present, AFib represents a marginally increased risk of stroke, and other factors, such as an increase in age, represent a higher risk.
Treatments for AFib and stroke differ, but both may involve
Treatment may include:
- blood-thinning medications, such as rivaroxaban and apixaban
- beta-blockers, such as bisoprolol and atenolol, which can slow the heart rate
- calcium channel blockers, such as diltiazem and verapamil, which slow the heart rate
- digoxin, which slows the electrical currents between the atria and ventricles
- sodium channel blockers and potassium channel blockers, which can help the heart’s rhythm
- lifestyle changes
includingimplantation of a pacemaker
Stroke treatment may vary depending on the type of stroke a person has and the stage of treatment. It typically includes medication, surgery, and rehabilitation.
Medication for ischemic stroke includes:
- tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) to dissolve a blood clot
- blood thinning medication
- medication to stop clot formation
Sometimes, surgery may include a procedure to open a blocked carotid artery.
Medication for hemorrhagic stroke includes blood pressure medications.
Surgery options include repairing an arteriovenous malformation (AVM), a tangle of arteries and veins that may have ruptured in the brain. Another option is coil embolization or aneurysm clipping to prevent blood from leaking from an aneurysm.
Rehabilitation for either type of stroke aims to help a person recover skills they lost due to the stroke and help them to gain independence and increase their quality of life.
Through medication and lifestyle changes, a person can
- rate control, which involves bringing down a high heart rate
- rhythm control, which involves restoring the heart’s rhythm
- preventing blood clots
- reducing risk factors of other heart problems
- managing risk factors for stroke
A person may reduce some risk factors of stroke by:
- eating a diet that promotes heart health
- maintain a moderate weight
- exercising regularly
- managing cholesterol and blood pressure
- giving up smoking
- managing stress
AFib can lead to stroke. It is a type of irregular heartbeat that probably happens when the heart does not pump blood effectively. When this happens, the blood moves sluggishly and can pool and clot. A blood clot can block an artery to the brain, starving the brain of oxygen and causing a stroke.
When a person has AFib, a doctor may prescribe blood thinning medications to prevent stroke. Other treatment for AFib includes beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and surgery.
A person may reduce the risk factors for stroke by making lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a heart-healthy diet, exercising regularly, and stopping smoking.
People should speak with a doctor if they think they have AFib. A stroke is a medical emergency, and a person should call 911 if they are experiencing symptoms.