5. “Can I die from my Atrial Fibrillation? Is it life threatening?”
Most episodes of A-Fib are not life threatening. Even though you may feel awful, it’s not like having a heart attack.
The biggest danger from A-Fib is the risk of stroke. Because your heart isn’t pumping out properly, blood clots can form and travel to the brain causing stroke. If you have A-Fib, you are five times more likely to have a stroke than the general population. It’s most important to take a blood thinner like warfarin (Coumadin) or aspirin to help prevent these clots from forming.
If you’ve had A-Fib for a long time, your heart may enlarge, develop fibrosis and eventually weaken. You may become more prone to other heart problems. For example, If you have A-Fib and aren’t being treated by a doctor, you are five-to-six times more likely to have a stroke than the general population. Also, A-Fib may lead to mental deterioration. Atrial fibrillation is independently associated with senile, vascular, and alzheimer’s dementia.
For more about the physiology of A-Fib, see our Overview of Atrial Fibrillation.
Last updated: Wednesday, August 26, 2015