AFib Screening Can Help Older Adults Avoid a Stroke

Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a type of heart arrhythmia that affects as many as 6 million Americans. This common heart condition causes rapid, irregular heartbeats, and your risk for having it increases as you get older. 

Some people with AFib don’t have any symptoms and don’t know they have it, but AFib is linked to increased risk of stroke, among other health issues. In fact, people with AFib are nearly five times as likely to suffer a stroke than those who don’t have it.

But having AFib doesn’t mean a stroke is inevitable. The team at NJ Cardiovascular Institute understands the risks that AFib brings, and we’re here to help you maintain your best health. We offer AFib testing, such as an electrocardiogram or Holter monitor, and ongoing care management to keep your heart strong and reduce your chances of stroke.

The link between AFib and stroke

In a healthy heart, the upper chambers (atria) beat in tandem with the lower chambers (ventricles) to move blood through your body. AFib is a heart arrhythmia, an irregular heartbeat, that causes the atria to beat out of sync with the ventricles.

When the atria and ventricles aren’t coordinated, blood can pool and clot in the atria. It’s possible for a clot to break off and travel to your brain, blocking cerebral arteries and triggering a stroke.

A stroke is a severe medical emergency that requires immediate care to prevent permanent damage or death. It often causes sudden numbness, dizziness, or changes in vision and speech. If you or someone near you shows signs of stroke, call 911 immediately.

Some people notice symptoms like heart palpitations or fatigue with AFib, but many more don’t know they have it until they begin experiencing other heart issues. To preserve your health as you age, getting screened for AFib is important.

When to consider getting an AFib screening

At NJ Cardiovascular Institute, our team offers echocardiograms (EKGs) to identify potential heart problems before you suffer a stroke or heart attack. An EKG is a noninvasive test that allows us to examine the condition of your heart’s chambers and your heartbeat.

You could benefit from an AFib screening if you:

Certain other health conditions, like sleep apnea, can increase your risk of AFib. If you have a history of heart problems or you have other risk factors, you could benefit from AFib screening beginning as early as age 40.

Up to 20% of people who experience a stroke have AFib, and many risk factors are the same. Older adults are at the greatest risk for both, and getting screened can help you take control over your health.

If you have AFib, we can recommend treatment options that reduce your risk of stroke. Blood-thinning medications work to prevent blood clots, and routine monitoring can help us track any changes in your heart health that could make a stroke more likely.

Getting a diagnosis is the first step to actively reducing your risk of stroke and other health problems. When you partner with our team to preserve your heart health, it’s possible to stay healthier longer.

AFib screening is an important preventive measure for older adults. Whether you’re at risk for AFib or you already know you have the condition, book an appointment with us for top-quality heart care. You can choose the office closest to you in either Secaucus or Newark, New Jersey.

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