We are going to talk about the dangers of Afib. Specifically, what impact does Afib have on your health and your mortality?
Afib is a nuisance for many people. It can come and go at seemingly random times, and some people don’t feel well when they are in Afib. It impacts the quality of their life and brings an uncertainty, from day to day, or even moment to moment, how they’re going to feel.
But Afib can also be much more than a nuisance. It can be life-threatening, and research has shown us that those with Afib have a significantly higher risk of health issues like stroke, heart failure, and dementia.
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Risk of stroke
The most significant and most important danger from Afib is the increased risk of stroke. Because the top chambers of the heart or the atria don’t contract normally in Afib, the blood can become stagnant in the crevices of the heart, and blood clots can form. The area where most blood clots associated with Afib occur is called the left atrial appendage, which is a small, sack-like structure in the left atrium.
Afib is associated with a 5-fold increase in stroke. This means those with Afib have a 500% increased risk of stroke compared to those who don’t have Afib. And this is true whether your Afib is constant (which doctors call persistent or permanent) or intermittent (which doctors call paroxysmal). Additionally, stroke from Afib is likely to be more severe than non–Afib-related stroke because the blood clots that can form in the heart are relatively large. When they break loose and travel to the brain (which is called embolizing), they can affect more extensive areas of the brain.
It is the ability for blood thinner medications to lower the risk of stroke (by up to 70%) that blood thinner medications are commonly recommended for those who are at high risk for stroke with Afib.
Besides the increased risk for stroke, Afib is also associated with a 300% increased risk of heart failure and a 200% increased risk for both dementia and death.
Afib results in over 450,000 hospitalizations and contributes to 160,000 deaths each year in the United States.
Afib is a nuisance, but it’s also dangerous.
The cost of Afib
Not surprisingly, Afib is also expensive. One study showed that having Afib adds over $18,000 per year to annual medical costs compared to a patient without Afib.
Lower your risk
If you have Afib, you are not powerless. There are proven, effective ways to lower your risk from Afib. Take blood thinner medications if they are appropriate, control your blood pressure and cholesterol, be physically active, eat nutritious food and, weight loss if you are at an unhealthy weight.
You have much more control than you may realize.