Complications from Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) itself is usually not life threatening. If left untreated, the side effects of AFib can be potentially life threatening. AFib makes it harder for the heart to pump blood effectively. With the blood moving more slowly, it is more likely to form clots. If the clot is pumped out of the heart, it could travel to the brain and lead to a stroke. This is the cause of about 15 out of every 100 strokes.

Without treatment, AFib can also cause a fast pulse rate for long periods of time. This means that the ventricles are beating too fast. When the ventricles beat too fast for long periods of time, the heart muscle can become weak. This condition is called cardiomyopathy. This can lead to heart failure and long-term disability.

To help prevent these complications, treatment for AFib usually includes one medication to reduce the chance of blood clots and stroke, and another to keep the pulse from going too fast.