Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) Risk Factors

Learning you have AFib can come as quite a shock, and you may wonder why it happened to you. Though it’s not possible to pinpoint the exact reason you have AFib, it may help you to know that there are risk factors that may have contributed to its onset. The risk of developing AFib is higher if a person has one or more of these conditions or behaviors. Take special note of the risk factors that you can control—simply making certain lifestyle changes can greatly reduce your risk for developing other health problems.

AFib causes and risk factors you can influence:

  • High blood pressure
  • Sleep apnea
  • Diabetes
  • Stress
  • Excessive consumption of caffeine or alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Drug abuse
  • Consistent and prolonged athletic training

AFib causes and risk factors you can’t control:

  • Heart defects you’re born with
  • Other heart conditions, like heart failure, coronary artery disease (CAD), or a previous heart attack
  • A family history of AFib

Sometimes, AFib occurs in an otherwise healthy person with a normal heart because of outside triggers like drugs or alcohol. However, in a heart that has an abnormal condition like an area of scarred tissue, electrical signals may be interrupted, disorganized, or irregular, making AFib more likely to develop.

Healthy-heart tips

You may not be able to control whether you have AFib, but you can control how you approach your health going forward. Get started on the right track by following these healthy-heart tips:

  • Get regular physical activity
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet, low in salt, saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol
  • Manage high blood pressure
  • Avoid excessive amounts of alcohol and caffeine
  • Don’t smoke
  • Control cholesterol
  • Maintain a healthy weight

AFib & Stroke

Learn how AFib causes a stroke and calculate your stroke risk.