Healthy Heart

What are Atrial Fibrillation Blood Clots?

What are Atrial Fibrillation Blood Clots?

Key Takeaways

  • Atrial fibrillation can cause blood to clot
  • Blood clots pose a risk of suffering from Stroke
  • It is possible to have irregular heart beat

What are Atrial Fibrillation Blood Clots?

Perhaps the terms Atrial Fibrillation Blood Clots are familiar with your ears or may be not, as the opposite applies to many and may be you are one of them. If you are in the latter group of people, then worry only if you have not read this article to the end to get the much information we have provided for you here. Helping you get to know everything you should know on this topic is our goal. Join us as we dig deep into this topic for a better understanding of it.

What is a Blood Clot?

A blood clot refers to solidified or semi-solidified blood. It is a body defense mechanism that ensures blood naturally clots when a blood vessel is injured in order to prevent further loss of blood. This is enabled by the presence of platelets in the blood. It is therefore a very important process in the body as we cannot live without adequate blood in our bodies. There are times when a clot forms within the blood vessels. When this happens, it can lead to fatal health complications as we are going to discover through this article.

How is Atrial Fibrillation Associated with Blood Clotting?

The inside of the human heart is divided into four chambers which are the Right and Left Atria, and the Right and Left Ventricles. These chambers are separated by valves which control the direction of blood flow. They are on the upper side of the heart, a position that is ideal for the purpose they serve. Before their name was changed they were called Auricles. Blood coming from other parts of the body for Oxygenation is first collected in the Right Atrium, from which it flows to the Right Ventricle where it is pumped to the lungs to receive Oxygen. The Oxygenated blood when flowing back to the heart is first collected at the Left Atrium, after which it flows to the Left Ventricle from where it is pumped to other parts of the body to supply Oxygen and other nutrients required by the body. When a condition is atrial, it means that it is occurring at the atria.

Atrial Fibrillation is a very rapid and irregular heart beat. The irregularity occurs where there is lack of simultaneous action between the contractions in the atria and in the ventricles. But what exactly causes this to happen? And also, how does it happen? Known as the natural pacemaker of the heart, the SA (sinoatrial) Node located in the upper portion of the right atrium is the origin of the electrical signals which control the contracting and relaxing of the heart muscles, that in turn controls pumping of blood by the heart. The heart has an electric system that transmits signals throughout the blood to control its pumping.The impulses or electrical signals that control the heart beat originate from the sinoatrial node and are sent to the atrioventricular node. It conducts these signals, and when the signals it receives are more than it is able to conduct, then there occurs irregularity in the contracting of the muscles in the heart chambers, where there are more in the atria. Not only do you lose the normal contracting sequence but frequently the heart rate itself can go to very high levels. There are three types of Atrial Fibrillation namely:

  • Paroxysmal (occasional) – this one will just or stop on its own after occurring for a short time (minutes or days).
  • Persistent – this one occurs for as long as the patient has not taken medication meant to make the heart return to its normal heart beat. That can also be achieved through a  special type of electrical shock known as cardioversion.
  • Permanent – persists and cannot be stopped through the methods mentioned in point two above.

Let us now get to the relationship between Atrial Fibrillation and blood clotting. Here the question is, how is Atrial Fibrillation associated with blood clotting? Atrial Fibrillation or Afib interferes with the flow of blood within the heart chambers. This causes blood to collect inside the heart forming a pool (there is less contracting of muscles in the ventricles as compared to the atria. Irregularity in the two affects how much blood is pumped to other body parts). When this happens, a blood clot may be formed. This clot can be transported to other parts of the body and eventually cause blockage within narrow blood vessels.

Blocking of a blood vessel means that the flow of blood is hindered. This prevents delivery of oxygen, food substances and other important materials to the parts where the blocked vessels lead to. In return the affected part or organ will begin to fail in performing its functions.

When the clot travels to the brain and prevents flow of blood, a stroke may result. This may also cause harm to the brain cells and in some situations complete damage of the brain. Afib increases the chances of one getting a stroke.

If the blood clot moves and blocks a coronary artery, you may suffer from a heart attack. Coronary arteries provide nourishment to the heart muscles and if they are blocked then the heart may stop functioning or go into shock.

From the above information it is evident enough that this condition is dangerous and it is therefore very important that it be treated early. But how will you that you are suffering from it. Below are the symptoms:

Though the causes of Atrial Fibrillation are unclear, heart abnormalities present since birth can cause it and also problems with the heart valves.

How Can You Prevent Blood Clotting due to AFib?

There are several ways of dealing with AFib that also offer opportunities of preventing blood from clotting within the heart due to the condition. Examples include the following:

  • Taking medications that can restore your heart rhythm back to normal. This will reduce the chances of irregular blood flow within the heart preventing pooling and therefore the risks of blood clots forming are minimized.
  • Treatment of other conditions that may be affecting you may also be recommended. This is because problems such as other heart defects may heighten the risks of development of blood clots. Treating them will therefore lower such risks.
  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, for example, by having regular exercises will also reduce the risks of blood clotting. 
  • Simple exercises such as walking can be undertaken. Eating healthy diets is also paramount in achieving the goal here.
  • Avoid fatty foods, smoking, taking alcohol or excess caffeine.
  • Medical practitioners may also prescribe blood thinners such as antiplatelet or anticoagulants which also lower the chances of formation of a blood clot. There are various types of blood thinners and you should consult with your doctor to know which blood thinners are most suitable for you. 
  • In cases where blood thinners cannot be administered, another option is available. It involves placing a small mechanical device in one of the atria. This device prevents any blood clots formed from leaving the heart.

The Bottom Line

Blood clots pose a serious threat to your health and any suspicions that may arise about their presence should be handled with utmost urgency. If you have any heart condition, regular visits to a health care facility for checkups may help save your life if any clot formed is detected and prevented from causing further damage.