What are the dangers of atrial fibrillation?

Although some people may live for years with atrial fibrillation without experiencing any symptoms or serious health problems, many individuals develop serious complications and potentially life-threatening conditions, including:

  • Stroke – Individuals with atrial fibrillation are 5 to 7 times more likely to have a stroke than the general population. That’s because atrial fibrillation causes the upper chambers of the heart to beat rapidly and irregularly, which inhibits quick and efficient blood flow. This can lead to potentially dangerous blood clots, which can travel to the brain, resulting in a stroke. Clots can also travel to other parts of the body causing damage to other areas, such as the heart, kidneys and intestines.
  • Heart Failure – Atrial fibrillation can decrease the heart’s pumping ability by as much as 20 to 25 percent. If this occurs over a long period of time, it can significantly weaken the heart and lead to heart failure.
  • Death – Chronic atrial fibrillation is not only associated with an increased risk of stroke and heart failure, but is also associated with an increased risk of death.

Because untreated chronic atrial fibrillation doubles the risk of heart-related deaths and causes up to a 5-fold increased risk for stroke, it’s vital that at-risk individuals seek proper diagnosis and treatment from a healthcare provider experienced in arrhythmia management.