What Causes Atrial Fibrillation & Stroke?

There are many factors that raise your risk for developing atrial fibrilllation. Your risk also increases as you age. However, in some cases, the cause is unknown.

Possible Causes of Atrial Fibrillation Include1

High blood pressure 

Heart attacks 

Previous heart surgery 

Coronary artery disease 

Abnormal heart valves 

Heart problems you're born with 

Improper functioning of the heart's natural pacemaker 

Chronic lung disease 

Hyperthyroidism or other metabolic imbalances 

Stress due to surgery, pneumonia, or other illnesses 

Viral infections 

Sleep apnea 

Exposure to certain stimulants, including some medications, caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol 

Atrial fibrillation can decrease the heart’s ability to pump by as much as 30 percent. As a result, blood pools in the top two chambers of the heart, called the atria. Since the blood isn’t pumped out of the heart normally, it’s easier for the blood cells to stick together and form clots in the left atrium, especially in an area called the left atrial appendage (LAA). The LAA is about the size of your thumb and looks like a small pouch on the top of your heart.

Blood clots can break loose from the LAA and travel to the brain, lungs, and other parts of the body, causing a stroke. In non-valvular AFib, the LAA is believed to be the source of most stroke-causing blood clots.2 But the good news is that there are a variety of treatments that can help reduce your risk of stroke. 

Atrial fibrillation can decrease the heart’s ability to pump by as much as 30 percent. As a result, blood pools in the top two chambers of the heart, called the atria. Since the blood isn’t pumped out of the heart normally, it’s easier for the blood cells to stick together and form clots in the left atrium, especially in an area called the left atrial appendage (LAA). The LAA is about the size of your thumb and looks like a small pouch on the top of your heart.

Blood clots can break loose from the LAA and travel to the brain, lungs, and other parts of the body, causing a stroke. In non-valvular AFib, the LAA is believed to be the source of most stroke-causing blood clots.2 But the good news is that there are a variety of treatments that can help reduce your risk of stroke. 

Anyone can have a stroke, regardless of age, race, or gender. But certain risk factors can increase your chance of having a stroke, including: 

 

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