For people with atrial fibrillation, stroke prevention is crucial because this heart condition is one of the most common causes of it.
Atrial fibrillation is the most common cardiac arrhythmia, but it may surprise you that treatment involves much more than just treating your heart. You may also be surprised to know that when you’re diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, your doctor’s first concern will be stroke prevention. In fact, this circumstance is a priority for the doctor who will take care of it before even helping you to get better by correcting your abnormal heart rhythm.
This may seem strange, but it happens because of two important facts related to atrial fibrillation: on the one hand, it is one of the most common causes of stroke, on the other hand, the strokes it causes are particularly serious and can lead to disability, according to the Framingham Heart Study or death than strokes from other causes.
As they get older, 10-20% of them will develop atrial fibrillation, and if a family member already has this arrhythmia, the risk doubles.
How to reduce your risk of stroke from atrial fibrillation
To prevent a stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation, anticoagulants must first be prescribed. These drugs don’t actually thin the blood, but rather reduce the chance of a blood clot forming.
When someone has atrial fibrillation, they cannot predict when their next heartbeat will be because they also have an abnormal heart rhythm. This means that in atrial fibrillation, the two upper chambers of the heart beat irregularly and not in sync with the two lower chambers.
This allows the blood to pool and become static, increasing the risk of blood clots. When the heart pushes out a blood clot, it can cause a stroke, heart attack, or damage to any organ it reaches.
Just a few minutes of an episode of atrial fibrillation can increase the risk of stroke, and many people are unaware that they have abnormal heart rhythms and are therefore at risk of stroke.
Other risk factors for a stroke include:
• High blood pressure
• heart failure
• Transient ischemic attack
• Vascular disease (including coronary artery disease and peripheral vascular disease).
The risk of stroke depends on age. It increases around the age of 65 and even more at the age of 75. In addition, women over the age of 65 have a higher risk of stroke than men.
These risk factors are used to determine whether you need anticoagulants and what your future risk of stroke might be. If you have two or more risk factors or diseases, your risk of stroke is quite high and you need anticoagulants. If you’ve already had a stroke, that alone means you’ll need to take anticoagulant medication for the rest of your life.
The risk of atrial fibrillation corresponds to that of a stroke
The same diseases that increase your risk of stroke if you have an abnormal heart rhythm also increase your risk of atrial fibrillation. For most people, the choices they make every day can reduce their risk of stroke.
What exactly should they do?
• Less sedentary life
• Avoid alcohol
• weight loss
• Aggressive treatment and treatment of hypertension
• Good sleep quality
• Treatment of sleep apnea, if present
• Stop smoking
• Diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
If you really want to lower your overall risk of stroke and atrial fibrillation, you need to take the above risks seriously. Prevention is always better than cure and you can start today because it’s never too late to reduce your risk of stroke.