Atrial fibrillation – also known as AF or AFib – is a common heart condition that causes an irregularand often abnormally rapid heart rhythm (arrhythmia), caused when electrical signals fire off from different places in the upper chambers of the heart in a chaotic way.1-3
If you have been diagnosed with AF, you may need treatment to help reduce your risk of a stroke together with medicines and/or procedures to treat your AF or its underlying cause. If this is the case, your doctor may prescribe you a type of medicine known as an oral anticoagulant, often called a ‘blood thinner’.4
If you are on anticoagulants, you may bleed more easily. Anticoagulants are used to slow down the formation of blood clots that cause strokes. They can also make it harder for new blood clots to form. This may help reduce your risk of a stroke.4 However, this also means that you may bleed more easily- especially if you fall or hurt yourself - and any bleeding, if it happens, may take longer to stop.4,5
1. Mayo Clinic. Atrial fibrillation. June 2019. Available at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/atrial-fibrillation/symptoms-causes/syc-20350624. Last accessed November 2020.
2. Morillo CA et al. J Geriat Cardiol 2017; 14: 195–203.
3. Stroke Association. Atrial fibrillation. Available at https://www.stroke.org.uk/what-is-stroke/are-you-at-risk-of-stroke/atrial-fibrillation. Last accessed November 2020.
4. Stroke Association. Atrial fibrillation (AF) and stroke. May 2019. Available at https://www.stroke.org.uk/sites/default/files/media-root/f26_atrial_fibrillation_and_stroke_v4_web.pdf . Last accessed November 2020.
5. NHS. Side effects. Anticoagulant medicines. May 2018. Available at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/anticoagulants/side-effects/ . Last accessed November 2020.