Atrial fibrillation itself usually isn’t life-threatening. However, it may lead to other complications, such as low cardiac output and cardiac failure, acute cerebral artery occlusion (stroke), and intellectual deficiency. It also results in deterioration of quality of life and an increased risk of stroke among patients.
Hospital death rates in patients with cardioembolic strokes associated with atrial fibrillation are 30%. This is why prophylactics, diagnostics, and treatment of patients with atrial fibrillation are vitally important.
Certain factors may increase the risk of developing atrial fibrillation, including:
- Age. The prevalence and incidence of atrial fibrillation increases with age. Over 10% of those aged 80 and over suffer from atrial fibrillation.
- Heart disease.
- High blood pressure.
- Other chronic conditions. People with certain chronic conditions such as thyroid problems, sleep apnea, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, chronic kidney disease or lung disease have an increased risk of atrial fibrillation.
- Drinking alcohol.
- Obesity. People who are obese are at higher risk of developing atrial fibrillation.
- Family history.
Some people with atrial fibrillation have no symptoms and are unaware of their condition until it’s discovered during a physical examination. Those who do have atrial fibrillation symptoms may experience signs and symptoms such as:
- Chest pain
- Skipped heart beats
- Breathing difficulties
- Shortness of breath
- Faintness or loss of consciousness
- High heart rate