Atrial fibrillation increases the risk of stroke


Heart attacks often occur as a secondary complication of an arrhythmia. (Source: wildpixel / Getty Images)

Patients with cardiac arrhythmias are particularly at risk of strokes. Who is particularly at risk and what warning signs of a stroke can be recognized

Atrial fibrillation is treacherous. The cardiac arrhythmia is only noticeable in around two thirds of the estimated 1.5 to 2 million people affected, with symptoms such as heart palpitations and irregular heartbeats up to the neck, a feeling of pressure in the chest, anxiety, shortness of breath, dizziness or poor performance. This has dangerous consequences, warns the German Heart Foundation .

Almost every third stroke is caused by atrial fibrillation

“If the arrhythmia is not recognized and not treated, it can lead to serious consequences such as stroke or heart failure,” warns cardiologist Dr. Gerian Grönefeld from the Scientific Advisory Board of the German Heart Foundation. “A stroke in particular often affects people with atrial fibrillation who know nothing about their cardiac arrhythmia and therefore have not received the protective therapy to prevent blood clotting.”

20 to 30 percent of strokes in Germany are caused by atrial fibrillation. Today we know, based on many studies, that in atrial fibrillation the disturbed cardiac movement and remodeling processes in the heart shift the balance of the blood’s natural clotting ability towards life-threatening clot formation. This is what the Heart Foundation reports on the occasion of the nationwide Heart Week, which this year has the motto “Turbulence in the Heart”. carry.

Recognize stroke warning signs early

When you have a stroke, every minute counts for those affected. Anyone who notices typical symptoms in themselves or another person should immediately alert the emergency services (emergency number 112). Because every minute counts. The so-called FAST test can be used to quickly determine whether a stroke is suspected:

  • F (English Face = face) : Ask the person concerned to smile. Does the face look asymmetrical? Is one corner of your mouth drooping? The stroke can affect the facial muscles.
  • A: Can the affected person lift both arms forward at the same time and turn the palms upwards? Does one arm drop, does it rotate, does one arm hang lower? During a stroke, the arms cannot be lifted; it is also difficult to coordinate the arms so that the palms face up.
  • S (English Speech & Sight) : Have the person concerned repeat a simple sentence. Can she repeat the words correctly? Does the speech sound unclear or slurred? The stroke can disrupt the language center in the brain. Persistent visual disturbances, double vision or severe dizziness are also suspicious.
  • T (English Time = time): If a person has problems with one of these tasks, call the emergency doctor (112) immediately. Tell the control center that you suspect a stroke so that the doctor is informed in advance and can provide quick help.

    Strokes often occur beforehand

    Strokes don’t always come out of the blue. Individual symptoms often appear days or weeks beforehand, but disappear again after a short time. Most of the time, these “harbingers” are almost the same symptoms as those of a stroke.

    However, unlike a “real” stroke, warning signs of this “transient ischemic attack” (TIA) improve or disappear after a short time. Every heart patient should be aware of the signs of a TIA. Its occurrence should always be viewed as an emergency like a real stroke and the emergency number 112 should be dialed immediately.


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