This can raise your risk of having a stroke

This can raise your risk of having a stroke

The common irregular heartbeat condition known as atrial fibrillation might not seem like something that would be linked to having a stroke, but it should be.

“If someone has this abnormal rhythm,” says Dr. Vinay Mehta, electrophysiologist at Aurora BayCare Medical Center in Green Bay, Wis., “and they’re not on the right medications, then the risk of stroke is very high.”

Afib is the most common heart rhythm disorder, expected to afflict 16 million Americans by 2050, according to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

“Because of that abnormal rhythm, a clot can build in the heart’s upper chambers and travel through the heart and go to the brain, often causing a stroke,” says Dr. Ziad Darkhabani, interventional neurologist at Aurora BayCare Medical Center.

There are things you can do to keep your heart healthy to reduce the risk of stroke by AFib:

  • Eat heart-healthy foods
  • Quit or refrain from smoking (check out some helpful tips here and talk to your doctor)
  • Limit or avoid alcohol
  • Exercise regularly

If you are feeling sudden chest pain, shortness of breath or dizziness that lasts for more than 10 minutes, you should seek immediate help.

And if you think someone is having a stroke, remember a test called BE FAST (Balance, Eyes, Face, Arm, Speech, Terrible Headache) can be used by anyone to identify up to 75% of strokes. Look for balance or coordination issues, sudden blurred, double or lost vision in one or both eyes, a facial droop, an arm or leg that goes weak, speech that is slurred or garbled and a terrible headache. The “T” can also mean “time,” representing the extreme urgency needed to get the person emergency care as quickly as possible to minimize damage to the brain. It is true that some strokes occur suddenly, with no warning signs or symptoms.

Check out a stroke survivor’s story.

If you are concerned about your heart health, take a free online quiz to learn more. If you’re concerned about your stroke risk, you can take another free online quiz.

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One Comment

  1. Is atrial fibrillation testing done as a screening protocol for the annual physical exam?? If not, why not???

About the Author

Brianna Wunsch
Brianna Wunsch

Brianna Wunsch, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator for Advocate Aurora Health with a BA in public affairs from University of Wisconsin - Green Bay. In her free time, Brianna enjoys living an active lifestyle through biking, hiking and working out at the gym, but even more than that, she especially loves spending quality time with her two cats (Arthur and Loki), son and husband.