Facts about atrial fibrillation, anticoagulant medication, and stroke
- Atrial fibrillation is an abnormal heartbeat in the top chambers of the heart that causes the chambers not to contract (squeeze) normally. This allows blood clots to form in the non-beating chambers.
- Atrial fibrillation increases the risk of a stroke.
- A blood clot forms in the heart and then travels to the brain, causing a stroke.
- Anticoagulants are a type of medication that reduces the body's ability to form blood clots and decreases the chance of a clot forming in the top chambers of the heart.
- Aspirin alone is not effective in reducing the risk of stroke.
- Most people with atrial fibrillation should take an anticoagulant medication to reduce their risk of a stroke.
Talk to your doctor about anticoagulant medications to prevent stroke
- Anticoagulant medications may not be appropriate for all patients.
- Anticoagulant medications are safe and effective options for many patients.
- Most anticoagulant medications are covered by your health plan. To find out if you are covered, check with your health plan’s formulary (found under Blood Products/Modifiers/Volume Expanders) or call the phone number on your health plan card.
Even if you have talked about this with your doctor in the past, we encourage you to have another conversation about these medications.
Additional Links and Resources
Visit the American Heart Association's interactive book for patients and their caregivers. Hear from expert physicians, patients, and test your knowledge with the quiz.
- A list of questions to take to your next doctor's appointment (from Heart.og)
- Questions to ask your doctor (from CardioSmart)
- A downloadable information sheet about medication adherence (also available in Spanish)
- Information about treatment guidelines and options
- How well are your medications lowering your stroke risks? (also available in Spanish)
- How Do New Blood Thinners Compare to Warfarin? (from WebMD)
- Atrial fibrillation, oral anticoagulant drugs, and their reversal agents (from the FDA)
- Why Aspirin Should Not Be Used for Atrial Fibrillation Stroke Prevention
- A tracker for common AF symptoms (also available in Spanish)
- Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)
- Answers by Heart - What is Atrial Fibrillation?
Visit StopAFib.org For Patients By Patients
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