The connection between stroke and atrial fibrillation can be a life or death matter.
According to the National Stroke Association, if someone suffers from atrial fibrillation (afib), he or she is 5 times more likely to have a stroke .
The good news is that afib and the effects of a stroke are treatable. However, if you don’t know you have afib, or you don’t know that you’ve suffered a stroke (yes, it’s possible), you can’t be treated for it.
Here are the top 6 signs associated with stroke and atrial fibrillation.
1. You’re Having Irregular Heart Palpitations.
Since atrial fibrillation is an irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia, it makes sense that heart palpitations are a sign of afib. If you experience a sudden and unexplained fluttering (‘butterflies’), racing, or a pounding feeling in your chest , it could be a sign of atrial fibrillation, and you should contact your doctor.
2. You’re Confused.
Confusion and short-term memory loss are signs of a stroke, according to the National Stroke Association . These symptoms may lead to a person wandering and getting lost in otherwise familiar areas. The victim may also suddenly have difficulty with financial transactions and following instructions.
3. You Have Trouble Understanding Others.
A person who is suddenly having a hard time speaking, or is slurring his or her speech, may have recently suffered a stroke. Difficulty speaking, as well as difficulty understanding what others are saying, are serious signs , and medical attention should be sought immediately.
4. You Feel Dizzy/Light-Headed.
According to the National Institutes of Health, a sign of atrial fibrillation is an onset of dizziness, or a fainting spell. This occurs because afib causes the ventricles in the heart’s lower chambers to contract more quickly than normal, and that prevents them from properly filling with blood. Dizziness can occur for a myriad of other reasons, but if you experience dizziness or fainting combined with other listed symptoms, consult your doctor.
5. You Have a Terrible Headache.
Most headaches are not cause for concern, and can be attributed to a variety of things, including caffeine withdrawal, stress and anxiety, or sinus congestion. However, a headache that comes on instantly, and is excruciating, could be a sign of hemorrhaging in the brain , and you should seek medical help immediately.
6. You’re Experiencing Temporary Paralysis, Numbness and Weakness.
Sudden numbness and weakness, and sometimes paralysis, are all indicators of a stroke. The feeling can originate in the face, leg or arm, and is often felt on just one side of the body. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience these symptoms, because, according to the Center for Disease Control, stroke treatment is most effective when it begins within three hours of the manifestation of the first symptoms .
Multiple Onset Symptoms
Often, stroke symptoms come in clusters, and they come on suddenly. Aside from those already listed, other symptoms of a stroke can include double vision, tingling, and loss of balance.
Atrial fibrillation also has symptoms other than those listed. These can include a combination of any of the following: pain in the jaw, arm or neck, sweating, and general fatigue .
Many of the symptoms and signs associated with stroke and atrial fibrillation can be explained away when considered separately. However, when several symptoms are being experienced simultaneously, it’s important that you seek medical attention immediately.