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The Scary Consequences of Untreated Atrial Fibrillation

admin - September 17, 2013

consequences of untreated afib

Many Americans are unaware of the risks posed to them by untreated heart conditions, including atrial fibrillation. Those who have this condition are at-risk for developing other life-threatening health problems such as stroke and heart failure if they don’t seek treatment.

In a patient who has atrial fibrillation (AFib), the heart quivers irregularly. According to the American Heart Association, a heart with AFib beats much faster than a healthy heart. Because of this quivering, the heart muscle contractions are not effective. As a result, the blood does not move completely from the atria to the next chamber. This causes the blood to pool in the atria, increasing the risk of blood clots. Additionally, because the blood’s movement is inconsistent and ineffective, the heart must work much harder to circulate blood throughout the body.

Atrial fibrillation is a dangerous condition because many people don’t realize they have it. This heart arrhythmia is often asymptomatic, meaning it usually doesn’t show symptoms. When it does show signs, however, they may include a rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath and lightheadedness.


Health Problems Linked to AFib

When atrial fibrillation goes untreated, it promotes the development of other more serious health conditions that can be life-threatening. These include both heart failure and stroke.
According to the Heart Rhythm Society, untreated AFib causes the heart to beat too fast. This can create a condition called cardiomyopathy, wherein the ventricles are beating so fast that the heart muscle weakens. Heart failure can result.

Stroke is another serious consequence of untreated atrial fibrillation. Because AFib promotes the buildup of blood clots, these blood clots can travel throughout the body into the brain, where they may create a blockage. Due to this, patients with AFib have a risk of stroke that is up to four or five times higher than stroke risk for healthy adults.

The first step in preventing such consequences is to identify the presence of atrial fibrillation through screening. If the presence of AFib is detected, the next crucial step is to seek treatment. It is with untreated atrial fibrillation that the health risks are the most serious. Treating atrial fibrillation can help keep the condition under control to avoid serious health complications, like stroke and heart failure.

Learn more about the painless, affordable atrial fibrillation screening from Life Line Screening today.


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