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What is atrial fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation is the most common type of irregular heartbeat. Atrial fibrillation causes the heart to work inefficiently so it can reduce the person’s ability to exercise and may lead to heart failure. Atrial fibrillation makes the blood flow inside the heart somewhat irregular, which can cause blood clots to form there. Consequently, atrial fibrillation carries a risk of stroke.

Approximately 330,000 people in Australia suffer from atrial fibrillation. The incidence and prevalence of atrial fibrillation is rising, largely due to the epidemic of ‘diabesity’. It is likely that the size of the problem has been underestimated because one type of atrial fibrillation, paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, is difficult to identify. If you would like more information about atrial fibrillation, you can find out more from our special report, Change of Heart: time to end cardiovascular complacency.

Am I at risk of atrial fibrillation?

You are at a high-risk of Atrial Fibrillation if you:

  • are aged over 65
  • have high blood pressure
  • have underlying heart disease.

For more risk factors, visit the American Heart Association.

If you are worried about Atrial Fibrillation please discuss with your GP or call Baker Specialist Clinics on (03) 8532 1800 to make an appointment with one of our cardiologists.

Video: Dr Alex McLellan explaining atrial fibrillation (2min, 32sec)