Fibrillation leads to stroke

The risk of stroke is five times greater for those suffering from atrial fibrillation than it is for the remainder of the population and the risk of premature death is twice as high.


When a patient with atrial fibrillation is treated one day, released from hospital the following day, at work the next week and three months later no longer has cardiac arrhythmia that caused anxiety and presented a health risk, that patient has improved his quality of life.

“The risk of stroke is five times greater for those suffering from atrial fibrillation than it is for the remainder of the population and the risk of premature death is twice as high,” stated Pedro Adragão, cardiologist, coordinator for the Cardiac Rhythm Centre at Hospital da Luz and director of the symposium: “Robotics, the new frontier to treat arrhythmia.”

Indeed, all human beings have, at some point in their lives, situations that change their cardiac rhythm. However with age, arrhythmias appear, some of which are very evident in adult life, especially starting at 40.

In developed societies, atrial fibrillation has been progressively increasing. First, because people live longer and then because societies are older, with longer survival rates. Therefore, this illness becomes more prevalent.

In a study done in Portugal, in a population apparently without symptoms and submitted to an electrocardiogram, it was seen that for each 1000 people, 25 had atrial fibrillation, that is, 2.5% of the population over 40. “This is a very important study because it determines, for those people, an increased risk of stroke and death”, states Pedro Adragão.

The atrial fibrillation risk factors can include atrial hypertension, sedentariness and overeating, but there are also patients without any of these factors, or even former professional athletes who could eventually suffer from this illness.

The arrhythmia symptoms can go unnoticed or be very intense. But, a person who feels palpitations, tachycardia or is excessively tired from activity should consult a doctor to determine the cause of that arrhythmia and, if necessary, treat it immediately.

Therefore, when there is a diagnosis of atrial fibrillation, one should not remain inactive, warns Pedro Adragão: “We currently know of two very important treatment factors to avoid risks of this condition and improve survival – the maintenance of normal cardiac rhythm and the prevention of thromboembolic phenomena that could result in very serious strokes.” Also according to this doctor, age is an important risk marker and for that reason risk groups should be followed starting at 40-50 years of age.

Treatment and release in 24 hours

The Cardiac Rhythm Centre at Hospital da Luz is the country’s most innovative arrhythmology unit, introducing robotic magnetic navigation into the Iberian Peninsula.

According to the head of the Cardiac Rhythm Centre, this unit follows international recommendations for the treatment of atrial fibrillation, which support asking the patient’s preference of either an ablation procedure by catheterisation – with a high level of effectiveness – or drug therapy, with a lower rate of effectiveness

For Pedro Adragão, patients who respond positively must be treated. “At Hospital da Luz, we treat patients safely, and greatly reduce exposure to x-rays, in a few hours and with a 24-hr hospitalisation. It is worth noting that our recurrence rate for these treatments is also very small and lower than international recommendations, which point to 1/3 of the treated cases,” he says.

In fact, more than 700 patients with atrial fibrillation have been treated at the Cardiac Rhythm Centre of Hospital da Luz, which corresponds to a very high percentage of the patients treated in Portugal.


Special Report, Leaping Forward - Lisbon International Clinical Congress, Hospital da Luz, Lisbon, february, 13-19.