Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a heart arrhythmia in which abnormal electrical signals begin in the atria (top chambers) of the heart. The heartbeat will be irregular and faster than normal. AF can put you at risk for other complications, including blood clots, stroke, and heart failure.
In atrial fibrillation, the atria do not achieve a solid contraction, which means blood may not be fully emptied from the chamber. This can lead to blood pooling, and blood clots may form. A blood clot in the heart can travel to the brain and cause a stroke. Atrial fibrillation is associated with an increased risk for stroke.
If atrial fibrillation continues over a long period of time, the decreased efficiency of the heart can lead to heart failure. Heart failure is the long-term inability of the heart to pump enough blood for the body’s needs, and the body’s organs don’t receive the oxygen they need to work properly. It is important that AF be converted to sinus rhythm, or controlled.
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