AF Information & Advice For Patients

Protect from AFib-related stroke

What is a stroke?

Stroke is a ‘brain attack’ where the oxygen supply to an area of the brain has been disrupted. A stroke can occur due to a clot blocking an artery to the brain (an 'ischemic' stroke), or can be caused by a bleed from an artery into the brain tissue (a 'hemorrhagic' stroke).

Strokes vary in intensity and the effects can be temporary or permanent. So-called silent strokes affect areas of the brain which are not directly associated with motor functions. Silent strokes are usually unnoticed and there are no outward symptoms except perhaps cognitive impairment or mood swings.

TIAs (transient ischemic attacks) may be followed by an apparently complete recovery. In serious strokes such as AFib-related strokes, the effects may be severe, causing loss of speech, paralysis, or even a fatality. This is why it is so important the people with AFib are properly anticoagulated based on their risk factors.

What is AFib-related stroke?

The irregular rhythm of the heart caused by AFib gives opportunity for the blood to pool and form into a clot. It is these clots that are at risk of breaking away and flowing through the blood until they cause a blockage and thus an ischemic stroke (clot caused stroke).

The following video illustrates how an AFib-related stroke occurs:

This video explores the issue of AFib-related stroke and the importance of managing the stroke risk in patients with atrial fibrillation. 


Symptoms or signs of a stroke - the FAST Test

The symptoms of a stroke can be recognised by the FAST test, which is the test also used by paramedics to diagnose a stroke:

FACE - has the person's mouth or eye drooped down? Can they smile?

ARM - can they raise both arms?

SPEECH - can the person speak clearly? Can you understand what they are saying?

TIME - act fast and call 911

Stroke is a medical emergency and receiving hospital assistance quickly can limit further damage and help someone make a full recovery.

If the symptoms settle quickly

In a situation where the symptoms of the FAST test seem to disappear quickly and normal body function is returned this may be a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or ‘mini stroke’.

Although immediate help may not be required, you should see your doctor promptly to be referred to a specialist stroke service.

These mini strokes can be signs that there is a risk of a major stroke.





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