In this week’s medical minute, Ascension St. Vincent focuses on blood thinners and Atrial Fibrillation (also called AFib or AF).
AFib is a quivering or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) that can lead to stroke and other heart-related complications. In atrial fibrillation, the upper chambers of the heart (the atria) beat irregularly (quiver) instead of beating effectively to move blood into the ventricles.
If a clot breaks off, enters the bloodstream and lodges in an artery leading to the brain, a stroke results. About 15-20 percent of people who have strokes have this heart arrhythmia. This clot risk is why patients with this condition are put on blood thinners.
Even though untreated atrial fibrillation doubles the risk of heart-related deaths and is associated with a 5-fold increased risk for stroke, many patients are unaware that AFib is a serious condition.