Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is the most common type of irregular heartbeat, affecting 350,000 Canadians, so know you are not alone. It’s important to understand the risks with having AFib. Unfortunately, AFib can lead to severe and debilitating strokes so it’s up to you to discuss stroke prevention with your doctor.

Some people learn they have AFib through a regular check-up with their physician. Others may receive their diagnosis in the emergency room. Either way, getting the news can be frightening – especially learning about its connection to stroke. Some physicians prescribe a blood thinner (or anticoagulant) to lower your risk of stroke as it can be raised by three to five times for those with AFib.

There are several different blood thinners and rate control medications available in Canada to reduce to the risk of stroke in patients who have AFib, and it’s important to speak with your healthcare professional about the most appropriate option for you.

Here are some things to consider when you speak with your physician:

  • Do I need to be on a blood thinner to protect myself from stroke?
  • What are the differences between the blood thinners?
  • What happens if I need to temporarily stop the effects of my blood thinner? For example, if I was injured or sick and needed urgent medical attention or surgery.
illustration of a physician

Stroke Prevention Medications

While AFib may not go away on its own, there are many ways to help manage and control your symptoms and decrease your risk of stroke. There are medications available called blood thinners (or anticoagulants) that have been proven to help reduce the risk of stroke.

These blood thinners prevent blood from thickening (or coagulating) by blocking activity in your blood that helps it clot. Blood thinner medications are usually an important part of the long-term care for people who have been diagnosed with AFib.

Read about stroke prevention medications

Blood Thinner Reversals

Blood thinners work to prevent stroke in atrial fibrillation. But did you know that you might need to temporarily reverse the effects of your blood thinner in an emergency situation? Certain blood thinners have treatments that doctors can use to temporarily reverse the effects of the blood thinner in case of emergency.

Read about blood thinner reversals

Talking to Your Doctor

Above all, your doctor is your best medical resource for continuing to stay healthy and further reduce your risk of stroke after developing AFib. Check out more below on how to work positively and effectively with your doctor.

Read about talking to your doctor