What is the risk of stroke associated with atrial fibrillation (Afib) (AF)?

Updated: Nov 18, 2019
  • Author: Lawrence Rosenthal, MD, PhD, FACC, FHRS; Chief Editor: Jeffrey N Rottman, MD  more...
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Answer

The rate of ischemic stroke in patients with nonrheumatic AF averages 5% a year, which is somewhere between 2 and 7 times the rate of stroke in patients without AF. The risk of stroke is not due solely to AF; it increases substantially in the presence of other cardiovascular diseases. [32] The prevalence of stroke in patients younger than 60 years is less than 0.5%; however, in those older than 70 years, the prevalence doubles with each decade. [33] The attributable risk of stroke from AF is estimated to be 1.5% for those aged 50-59 years, and it approaches 30% for those aged 80-89 years. Women are at a higher risk of stroke due to AF than men and some have suggested this may be due to undertreatment with warfarin. However, one study of patients 65 years or older with recently diagnosed AF found warfarin use played no part in the increased risk of stroke among female patients. [34]


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