Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heart rhythm that affects the upper two chambers of this organ. The condition causes the heart to beat rapidly. In fact, certain cases can see up to 150 beats per minute. Often, the factors that are related to AFib are age, diabetes, high blood pressure, and underlying heart disease. When this condition goes untreated, a person is at a higher risk of experiencing a stroke.
Heightened Stroke Risk
Unfortunately, an average individual with AFib is five times more likely to develop a stroke than a person with a normal heartbeat. To repeat, the top heart chambers fail to contract regularly. Since this causes uneven levels of blood to be pumped out of the heart, it becomes easier for blood cells to form clots in the left atrial appendage. As a clot breaks free and goes to a different part of the body, it may cut the brain’s blood supply, which ends with a stroke.
AFib Stroke Prevention and Treatment
To prevent a stroke from occurring, there are a few treatment options available:
It is a fact that long-term uses of blood thinners, including warfarin, can decrease the risk of stroke in people who suffer from AFib by up to 80 percent. Patients appreciate that they can lower their likelihood of developing a stroke with medicine. However, these types of drugs have proven to bring extra complications like excess bleeding, especially in older individuals.
Other Minimally Invasive Procedures that Prevent Stroke in AFib Patients
- Watchman Procedure. The “Watchman” is an FDA-approved mesh device that blocks the opening of the appendage in order to stop clot formation. Many patients are prescribed short-term medicine to prevent clotting until complete healing occurs.
- Left Atrial Appendage Clipping. A different procedure involves making a small incision in the chest. A camera is used to guide an instrument into place that clips the appendage. This permanently closes the area so that blood cannot escape and start clotting.
- Lariat Procedure. During this treatment, a thin catheter is used to reach the heart. A small lariat, which resembles a cowboy’s lasso, is looped around the left atrial appendage and is tightened so that it is sealed from the rest of the organ. This lets the heart function without problems and blocks clots from getting loose and traveling throughout the rest of the body.
Consult with an Experienced Cardiac Electrophysiologist
A stroke can have devastating consequences on a person’s body. Individuals with AFib are at a higher risk of suffering from this condition, so it is necessary to understand preventative measures. Thanks to cutting-edge technology, it is possible to lower the chances of negative health effects that are caused by AFib. For more information, it is essential to speak with the experts at Virginia Arrhythmia Consultants.