If you have been experiencing heart palpitations or a “flutter” in your chest, talk to your doctor about it right away: You could be at risk for stroke due to atrial fibrillation.
Atrial fibrillation occurs when the heart’s upper chambers, the atria, quiver instead of fully contracting and pumping blood, causing the blood to pool. “When blood pools, it is more likely to clot,” says Clifford R. Talbert Jr., MD, FACC, interventional cardiologist, Saint Francis Medical Partner. “That clot may then be pumped out of the heart and to the brain, leading to stroke. If not treated right away, a stroke can cause permanent brain damage.”
According to the American Heart Association, an estimated 15 percent of strokes are the result of untreated atrial fibrillation. Talk to your doctor if you notice heart palpitations or other symptoms such as lightheadedness, fatigue or shortness of breath.