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Irregular Heartbeat Develops in 1 in 4 Adults over 40

A new study has shown that 1 in 4 people will develop atrial fibrillation (AF), an irregular heartbeat, after the age of 40. AF is most common in older people, and it can increase the risk of stroke and have a negative impact on your quality of life. When you have AF, the upper chambers of your heart quiver instead of beating strongly. Blood can gather there, and sometimes it can form a clot. If the clot leaves the heart and gets stuck in an artery in the brain, a stroke is the result. AF causes about 15 to 20 percent of strokes.

You canít always tell when your heartbeat is irregular. Thatís why itís important to see your doctor regularly and have your pulse checked. Your doctor may even be able to teach you how to monitor your pulse yourself.

If it turns out that you do have AF, there are medications you can take to decrease your risk of AF complications.

Circulation, August 2004.

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