Fibs or facts: Misconceptions about a common heart health issue

(BPT) - How well do you know your heart? Approximately 6.4 million people in the U.S. were diagnosed with atrial fibrillation not caused by a heart valve problem in 2014 and there are a lot of misconceptions.

Atrial fibrillation, commonly called AFib, is a type of irregular heartbeat. There are two types of AFib: one that is caused by a heart valve problem, and one that is not. People with AFib not caused by a heart valve problem are at a five times greater risk of stroke than people who do not have this condition. In fact, 15 percent of strokes are due to AFib not caused by a heart valve problem.

“As someone who has AFib, I'm challenging you now to learn the fibs and the facts about AFib-related stroke risk, and share them with everyone you care about,” says comedian and entertainer Howie Mandel.

Mandel urges people to visit to test their knowledge, learn the facts about AFib not caused by a heart valve problem and support the National Stroke Association. While on the site, complete the Fibs or Facts quiz and the Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer Alliance will make a $1 donation, up to $30,000, to the National Stroke Association.

Do you know the answers to some of the most commonly missed AFib questions?

Fib or fact?
AFib not caused by a heart valve problem can cause blood clots, which may lead to stroke.

Answer: Fact! With AFib, the top chambers of the heart (the atria) do no contract properly to push blood through the heart. As a result, some blood remains in the atria, which can pool, and clots may form. These clots can travel to the brain, blocking or limiting blood flow, which may result in a stroke.

Fib or fact?
Strokes caused by AFib can be less severe and are less likely to be fatal than strokes not related to AFib.

Answer: Fib. Strokes caused by AFib can be more severe and more likely to be fatal compared to strokes not associated with AFib.

Fib or fact?
AFib symptoms may include fluttering or "thumping" in the chest, dizziness, and shortness of breath.

Answer: Fact! Also, AFib can be diagnosed by reviewing medical and family histories, completing a physical exam, and conducting diagnostic tests and procedures. If someone has AFib not caused by a heart valve problem, it is important for them to work with their doctor to discuss treatment options that can help reduce the risk of stroke.

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