More than 2 million Americans live with atrial fibrillation (AF), an irregular heart rhythm that occurs when the heart’s two upper chambers beat erratically, causing the chambers to pump blood rapidly, unevenly and inefficiently. Blood can pool and clot in the chambers, increasing the risk of stroke or heart attack. AF affects about 3 percent to 5 percent of people over age 65 and is related to about 15 percent of all strokes.
57 percent of the AF episodes were linked to specific risk factors, including high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, overweight and other heart diseases. Of these risks, high blood pressure was the strongest predictor, accounting for more than one-fifth of all cases.
Blood pressure control, diabetes control, weight control and not smoking could help one million people avoid or reduce risks of atrial fibrillation.
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