Is Atrial Fibrillation Dangerous?
Atrial Fibrillation is not fatal, but can be dangerous.
Atrial Fibrillation itself is not a life-threatening heart rhythm – the rhythm by itself is not fatal. Though for some people, it can be extremely uncomfortable and, in some cases, it can be dangerous. Atrial Fibrillation is associated with an increased risk of blood clots and strokes, and over time can cause excessive strain that can lead to heart failure.
Atrial Fibrillation can increase your risk of having a stroke.
According to the National Heart Foundation of Australia, people with atrial fibrillation have a five times greater risk of stroke than those without.
During atrial fibrillation, the heart’s ability to pump blood properly is reduced, which increases the chance of blood pooling in the heart, and allowing blood clots to form. Those blood clots can then travel from the heart inside the arteries up into the brain, causing a stroke – which is a blockage to the blood supply to a part of the brain.
It is important to work with your doctor who will assess your personal risk of stroke and if necessary, your doctor may prescribe blood thinning medications (anti-coagulants) to reduce that risk.
People with AFib should also familiarise themselves with the warning signs of a stroke, and know how to seek help in an emergency.
Atrial Fibrillation can increase your risk of Heart Failure
A long-term consequence of increased strain on your heart from AFib is that you can develop heart failure.
Heart failure is when, over time, your heart gradually weakens and becomes less effective as a pump. The chambers are less elastic and over time start to stretch and become enlarged. They get weaker in their ability to contract and pump blood around your body.
Can Atrial Fibrillation be Cured?
There is no cure for AF.
It’s an ongoing condition, that you’ll live with for the rest of your life.
It will gradually get worse, but through both medical treatments and healthy lifestyle changes, it’s possible to both reduce your risk of serious consequences, slow down the progress of the condition, and live a better life with AF.