We use our own and third party cookies to offer you our services, customize and analyze your browsing and show you advertising related to your preferences. By continuing to browse, we consider that you accept its use. You can change the settings and get more information in the
When treated correctly, atrial fibrillation generally has a good prognosis and patients can live a normal life.
In patients with no other diseases, recurrences of atrial fibrillation do not tend to escalate further. However, atrial fibrillation tends to exacerbate other heart diseases, when present, and leads to, for example, acute heart failure (generally a strong choking sensation) or angina (chest pain). A small proportion of patients with atrial fibrillation and ventricular pre-excitation (Wolff–Parkinson–White syndrome) may suffer potentially serious ventricular arrhythmias.
There are primarily two long-term complications of atrial fibrillation:
Thromboembolisms. The atrium’s inability to contract correctly means that blood begins to accumulate and eventually it coagulates to form small clots or thrombi. If these clots pass into the ventricle and later the aorta, they can be transported to and obstruct any artery in the body, resulting in an insufficient blood supply. If a thrombus develops in an artery in the brain, it will cause a stroke. If it develops in an arm or a leg, which is less common, or a coronary artery, then this will result in a heart attack. Not everybody with atrial fibrillation has the same risk of suffering a stroke. Less than 1 in every 100 patients with low-risk atrial fibrillation will endure a stroke each year. Of those with a high risk, more than 10 in every 100 will suffer a stroke each year. The healthcare team will assess the risk based on certain characteristics such as age, the presence of high blood pressure or other heart diseases, or a prior history of having suffered a stroke. It is very important to emphasise that the need to receive anticoagulant therapy does not depend on the number of episodes, their duration or whether each patient currently has atrial fibrillation.
Heart failure. Heart failure is a weakening of the heart. In some cases where atrial fibrillation results in an increased heart rate for extended periods, generally weeks, then this situation can weaken the heart. This weakening is usually reversible so long as the heart rate can be reduced, thereby re-establishing normal heart function.
We are sorry, we are working to improve PortalCLÍNIC. Help us become better, tell us why
Thanks for your help!
An error has occurred and we were unable to send your opinion, please try again later.
Substantiated information by:
Alba Cano VallsNurseAtrial Fibrillation Unit
Eduard Guasch CasanyMédico Cardiólogo, HCBUnidad de Fibrilación Auricular
Josep Lluís Mont GirbauCardiologistAtrial Fibrillation Unit
Manel Castellà PericasCardiac SurgeonCardiovascular Surgery Head of Department
Published: 27 November 2018
Updated: 27 November 2018
The donations that can be done through this webpage are exclusively for the benefit of Hospital Clínic of Barcelona through Fundació Clínic per a la Recerca Biomèdica and not for BBVA Foundation, entity that collaborates with the project of PortalClínic.
Receive the latest updates related to this content.
Thank you for subscribing!
If this is the first time you subscribe you will receive a confirmation email, check your inbox
An error occurred and we were unable to send your data, please try again later.