Heart Home > Atrial Fibrillation and Related Conditions

Pulmonary Embolism and Stroke

When a clot becomes lodged in the blood vessels of your lungs and blocks blood flow, it's called a pulmonary embolism. When this happens in a part of the brain and causes tissue death, it's called a stroke. People who have atrial fibrillation are five times more likely to have a stroke than people who have a normal heart rhythm.

Congestive Heart Failure

Persistent or frequent periods of atrial fibrillation that last for a few months or longer can cause the walls of the heart chambers to become stretched out. This makes the heart weaker, and can lead to a condition called congestive heart failure.
When this happens, your heart can no longer pump enough blood to meet your body's needs, and fluid can become backed up in several places. The feet, legs, and abdomen can all become swollen from excess fluid. This fluid can also accumulate in the lungs, making it harder to breathe.
(Click Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation to learn more about the symptoms associated with these complications.)
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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