How does irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation) play a role in stroke risk? : LUSENET : cvahelp : One Thread

According to the American Stroke Association, an estimated 15% of strokes are caused by atrial fibrillation (AF or a-fib). In simple terms, AF is a rapid, irregular heartbeat, which can cause pooling of blood in the atria (the upper two of the heart's four chambers). When blood pools in the atria, it tends to clot. The clots can then be sent out into the circulation of the body, eventually traveling to the brain and blocking circulation to small blood vessels in the brain, ultimately causing a stroke.

Treatment for AF will vary depending on its cause. Many patients with this condition require treatment with a blood thinner (anticoagulant) such as warfarin (also known by the tradename Coumandin). Treatment with warfarin has been shown to be highly effective in preventing strokes caused by AF. However, warfarin treatment requires close monitoring by a doctor, as well as bloodwork done regularly so that the daily dose can be adjusted as needed.

****People taking warfarin (Coumadin) should NEVER STOP TAKING THIS MEDICINE without consulting the doctor who prescribed it.****

(Prepared by Lynn O'Donnell)

-- Anonymous, February 06, 2004

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