Importance of Treatment 

atrial fibrillation stroke risk

Atrial Fibrillation is a progressive disease

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with AF (also referred to as AFib), it’s important to get treatment as soon as possible. AF is a progressive disease that becomes harder to treat the longer it persists.1

Treating AF early can help stop the disease from progressing to a more persistent form where it causes more frequent and longer-lasting symptoms.2,3,4

AF also increases the risk of other conditions that can be more serious and even life-threatening, such as stroke or heart failure.5,6

AF is one of the most common causes of stroke – up to 30% of all strokes occur in people with AF.7,5

atrial fibrillation stroke risk

Risk of stroke

The irregular heartbeat of Atrial Fibrillation means that blood can pool in your heart, which increases the risk of clot formation. When pumped out of the heart, these clots can block an artery of the brain, resulting in a stroke.8 AF is one of the most common causes of stroke, with up to 30% of all strokes occurring in people with AF.7,5 

People who have AF tend to experience more severe and devastating strokes than people without AF.9,10 We all know that strokes can cause significant disability impacting on both the physical and psychological well-being of patients,8,11 so treatment that reduces the risk of stroke is of enormous importance.

atrial fibrillation stroke risk

What is your stroke risk?

We know that stroke is one of the major and most serious complications associated with Atrial Fibrillation.  Having AF increases the risk of stroke by 2.4 times.

Your doctor will assess your risk of stroke, but you can do your own initial calculation by using the “My Stroke Risk Score” questionnaire. By completing a few simple questions about your age, overall health and lifestyle, you will be given a stroke risk score.  This isn’t a definitive assessment, just an indicator that you can then talk to your doctor about in more detail.  If you do have a raised risk of stroke, there are many different ways to reduce this risk and your doctor will be able to discuss the different approaches with you.

living with atrial fibrillation

Impact of Atrial Fibrillation on everyday life

The symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation will vary from person to person, both in how often they experience them and how severe they are. If you have any symptoms of AF, you may find that they are having a real impact on your health, making it hard to carry out your normal daily activities.

People with AF report symptoms that can cause a general feeling of ill-health, affecting their physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

Over 50% of AF patients also have a reduced ability to exercise.12

Treatment aims to get these symptoms under control so people with AF (also referred to as AFib) can carry on with the things they want to be doing, whether that’s working, spending time with their family and friends, or pursuing hobbies.

living with atrial fibrillation

How is your Atrial Fibrillation affecting your overall quality of life?

Some people have fairly mild symptoms of AF, while others experience symptoms that have a significant impact on their ability to carry out their everyday tasks and activities.  

Knowing how severely your AF is affecting your overall quality of life is useful, as you can then share this information with your doctor so they can have an accurate understanding of how your condition is affecting you.  This information may lead to your doctor recommending a different treatment approach or helping you access support from other members of the wider care team.  

Download the “My Quality of Life Score” questionnaire to answer questions about AF on your everyday life and share this information at your next doctor’s appointment.


1. van Gelder I 2016 2. Nieuwlaat R, Prins MH, Le Heuzey JY, Vardas PE, Aliot E et al. (2008) Prognosis, disease progression, and treatment of atrial fibrillation patients during 1 year: follow-up of the Euro Heart Survey on atrial fibrillation. Eur Heart J 29 (9): 1181-1189. 3. de Vos CB, Pisters R, Nieuwlaat R, Prins MH, Tieleman RG et al. (2010) Progression from paroxysmal to persistent atrial fibrillation clinical correlates and prognosis. J Am Coll Cardiol 55 (8): 725-731. 4. Schnabel R, Pecen L, Engler D, Lucerna M, Sellal JM et al. (2018) Atrial fibrillation patterns are associated with arrhythmia progression and clinical outcomes. Heart.Oct;104(19):1608-1614. 5. Zoni-Berisso M 2014 6. Odutayo A, Wong CX, Hsiao AJ, Hopewell S, Altman DG et al. (2016) Atrial fibrillation and risks of cardiovascular disease, renal disease, and death: systematic review and meta-analysis. Bmj 354 i4482. 7. Kirchhof P, Benussi S, Kotecha D, Ahlsson A, Atar D et al. (2016) 2016 ESC Guidelines for the management of atrial fibrillation developed in collaboration with EACTS. Eur Heart J 37 (38): 2893-2962. 8. Menke J, Luthje L, Kastrup A, Larsen J (2010) Thromboembolism in atrial fibrillation. Am J Cardiol 105 (4): 502-510. 9. Hannon N, Sheehan O, Kelly L, Marnane M, Merwick A et al. (2010) Stroke associated with atrial fibrillation--incidence and early outcomes in the north Dublin population stroke study. Cerebrovasc Dis 29 (1): 43-49. 10. Andrew NE, Thrift AG, Cadilhac DA (2013) The prevalence, impact and economic implications of atrial fibrillation in stroke: what progress has been made? Neuroepidemiology 40 (4): 227-239. 11. Hillis AE, Tippett DC (2014) Stroke Recovery: Surprising Influences and Residual Consequences. Advances in Medicine 2014 1-10. 12. Rienstra M, Lubitz SA, Mahida S, Magnani JW, Fontes JD et al. (2012) Symptoms and functional status of patients with atrial fibrillation: state of the art and future research opportunities.

Disclaimer: The information featured here is not intended as medical advice, or to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. Please talk to your doctor if you have any questions.

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