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Complications - Atrial fibrillation

People with atrial fibrillation are at a higher risk of having a stroke.

In extreme cases, atrial fibrillation can also lead to heart failure.


When the upper chambers of the heart (atria) do not pump efficiently there's a risk of blood clots forming.

These blood clots may move into the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles). They can get pumped into the blood supply to the lungs or to the rest of the body.

Clots can block arteries in the brain, causing a stroke.

Atrial fibrillation increases the risk of a stroke by about 5 times.

But the risk depends on your age and if you have:

Heart failure

If your atrial fibrillation is constant, it may start to weaken your heart. In some cases, it can lead to heart failure, when your heart cannot pump blood around your body properly.

Page last reviewed: 26 July 2023
Next review due: 26 July 2026