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What is AFib?
Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, is the most common type of irregular heartbeat. It occurs when one or both of the upper chambers of the heart – called the atria – don’t beat the way they should. This can cause blood to pool in the left atrium, where a blood clot can form. If that clot breaks away, it can travel to the brain, where it can cause a type of stroke called an ischemic (is-KEE-mic) stroke.
AFib affects more than 2 million people in the United States. The odds of developing AFib go up with age. In fact, the American Heart Association states that AFib is the most common type of irregular heartbeat in people over the age of 65.
Some common myths about AFib
With the tremendous amount of material about AFib available, you may occasionally come across conflicting information. We’re here to help dispel some common AFib myths. These include:
- Myth 1: Everyone who has AFib will have symptoms.
Not true. Some people with AFib will have no symptoms at all and yet, they may still suffer a sudden stroke.
- Myth 2: If you take medication for AFib and no longer have symptoms, you’re cured.
The fact is, you may still have AFib whether or not you feel symptoms, and it is very often a lifelong condition.
- Myth 3: Warfarin, also known as Coumadin® or Jantoven®, is the only medication approved by the FDA to reduce stroke risk due to AFib.
Not True. PRADAXA was the first oral alternative to warfarin approved by the FDA to reduce the risk of stroke due to the most common type of AFib, the type not caused by a heart valve problem. See how the two compare. Since FDA approval in October 2010, over 5.5 million PRADAXA prescriptions have been filled.
Know the signs of AFib
Atrial fibrillation (AFib) can feel like different things to different people, and for some, AFib may cause no symptoms at all. A few of the signs of AFib include:
- Racing, irregular heartbeat
- Fluttering in the chest
- Heart palpitations
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Fatigue when exercising
If you have been diagnosed with AFib, your doctor may have discovered it during a routine physical exam or while testing for another condition. Your doctor most likely confirmed your diagnosis using an electrocardiogram, or EKG, which is a test that charts your heart’s rhythm.
You should know that having AFib can put you at 5 times greater risk of stroke. Learn more about stroke risk and what you can do to reduce your risk.Next: AFib Glossary »