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.
“Atrial fibrillation may be intermittent and while the heart is in fibrillation, says Dr. Jeanne Pallagi, neurologist at Aurora Medical Center Summit, “small clots may form in the upper chambers of the heart, that can then be sent into the blood stream when the heart returns to normal rhythm. These clots can cause a stroke by blocking blood flow to areas of the brain.”
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 BayCare Clinic.
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.
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health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.