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Atrial fibrillation is an abnormal heart rhythm that can disrupt the normal flow of blood in the heart.
When blood does not flow smoothly, there is a chance that the blood can form clots. If a blood clot has formed in the heart, it can be carried by the bloodstream to other areas of the body (thromboembolism). This is dangerous because the clot can become wedged in a smaller blood vessel and decrease the flow of blood to the area that blood vessel supplies.
A blood clot that travels to the small blood vessels in the brain can decrease or block blood flow to the brain, causing injury to the brain (ischemic stroke).
Berian JR, Livingston EH. Preventing Stroke in People With Atrial Fibrillation. JAMA. 2015;314(3):310. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.6779
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