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Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) Myths and Facts

Myth: You would know if you had it.

About 15% of people who have AFib have no symptoms before their diagnosis. "A patient might come in for a routine physical," Wu says, "and their doctor notices there is an irregularity."

Other people might not realize they have AFib, but "they know something is not quite right," Tomaselli says. "For example, if their tolerance for exercise has changed."

If something feels off, see your doctor.

Myth: If you have sleep apnea, you'll get AFib.

It's sort of true: For some people, sleep apnea will trigger an episode. But many people with sleep apnea don't have AFib.

If you do have both conditions, treat them both.

Myth: The biggest danger from AFib is a heart attack.

The most feared complication is stroke. Your chance of having one is five times higher if you have AFib. That's because your blood may not flow well and even pool in places like your heart, which makes it easier for clots to form. A clot that gets stuck in a blood vessel in your brain can cause a stroke.

You'll be less likely to have a stroke if you take your AFib medication correctly. Doctors usually prescribe drugs called blood thinners that make your blood less "sticky." Other medicines help control your heartbeats so your blood keeps moving.

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Reviewed on November 04, 2013

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