What complications can occur with atrial fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation, a common heart rhythm disorder, can sometimes lead to complications.

These complications include:

  • Stroke. In atrial fibrillation, the chaotic rhythm may cause blood to pool in your heart's upper chambers (atria) and form clots. If a blood clot forms, it could dislodge from your heart and travel to your brain. There it might block blood flow, causing a stroke.

    The risk of stroke in atrial fibrillation depends on your age — you have a higher risk as you age — and on whether you have high blood pressure, diabetes, or a history of heart failure or previous stroke, and other factors.

    Certain medications, such as blood thinners, can greatly lower your risk of stroke or damage to other organs caused by blood clots.

  • Heart failure. Atrial fibrillation, especially if not controlled, may weaken the heart and lead to heart failure — a condition in which your heart can't circulate enough blood to meet your body's needs.
Apr. 19, 2014 See more In-depth