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Irregular pulse - atrial fibrillation

Irregular Pulse – Atrial Fibrillation (AF) and Stroke

Irregular Pulse (AF) is a risk factor for stroke, however you need to be aware that it is one of many risk factors, including diabetes, high cholesterol, irregular heartbeat, and other lifestyle choices.

AF is the term given to a particular type of irregular heartbeat. The heart has of a number of different chambers which prepare blood to take oxygen and nutrients to the rest of the body before pumping it out again.

In a healthy heart, all four chambers beat at the same time, somewhere between 60 and 100 times per minute.

If someone has an irregular heart, the left side of the heart (left atrium) beats rapidly and unpredictably and can beat irregularly at over 400 times per minute. If untreated, AF can result in a high risk of stroke.

How does AF cause stroke?

The normal rhythm of a healthy heart empties the heart’s chambers of incoming blood and transports it around the body. If the heart is beating irregularly and rapidly, it doesn’t move the blood quickly through the heart, and the blood flow can become sluggish.

This can result in blood clots which break loose and travel to the brain or other parts of the body. If a clot travels to the brain it can block an artery and cause a stroke. Brain cells deprived of blood by a blocked artery can die, causing permanent disability or death.

Who has AF?

AF is common in people over the age of 65 and people who have heart disease or thyroid disorders.

For more about Irregular heartbeat and stroke and Atrial fibrillation resource.