Brief Overview of Atrial Fibrillation and Chronic Kidney Disease

Do you know what Atrial Fibrillation (Afib) and Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) have in common? Both are risk factors for stroke. If someone you know has a stroke, it could be caused by one or two things, including these two.


If you or someone you know is at high risk for stroke, here is some information to educate yourself about Afib and CKD.



What is Atrial Fibrillation?

This is a type of arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat that may be caused by valvular Afib or nonvalvular Afib (NVAF). The former means the problem is due to a problem in the heart valve, while the latter is the opposite. Afib can be more permanent or can come and go without the need for intervention.



What is Chronic Kidney Disease?

This happens when the kidney loses its vital functions—regulate blood pressure, remove metabolic wastes, balance body fluids, etc. It becomes chronic when the problem has been going on for 3 months or more. This health condition is usually irreversible.



How are Afib and CKD Linked to Stroke?

An irregular heartbeat can result in improper blood flow, increasing the risk of a clot to form in the heart or blood vessels. When a clot or parts of it break off and move to the brain, certain areas of it will be deprived of blood. This leads to a stroke that comes with serious health complications.


CKD, on the other hand, increases the risk of stroke and heart disease because the kidneys are responsible for filtering blood. These make them vulnerable to problems with blood circulation and those in the blood vessels.


Moreover, people with Chronic Kidney Disease may develop Atrial Fibrillation. So not only are they at risk of stroke, but also Afib that can lead to stroke as well.



How do you know if you’re Afflicted with Either Afib or CKD?


You can undergo Afib testing that involves a physical exam and electrocardiogram (EKG). Your physician will also check your heart function through echocardiogram or ECHO and look into your medical and family history.


As you may know, some people are at a higher risk of certain diseases if their families are known to suffer the same problems.


Testing for CKD, on the other hand, is done through a urine test. This is done to detect blood (hematuria) and protein (albuminuria). A blood test is also performed. The higher the waste products and protein levels are, the more likely that your kidney is not doing its job well. A further test is done through the Glomerular filtration rate (GFR).




Is Afib Treatable?


Yes. Treatment is usually done in two ways—rate control and rhythm control. The former uses medication to control your heart rate, while the latter uses certain cardiac procedures and medication to prevent Afib.


As for CKD, disease management is the best course of action.



How do you Reduce the Risk for Stroke?

Since Afib and CKD increase the risk of stroke, you should take good care of your heart and kidneys.


Some of the things you can do are:


  • Change your diet and live a healthy lifestyle
  • Manage blood pressure
  • Don’t overuse NSAIDs
  • Avoid smoking and using herbal supplements


Most importantly, educate yourself about the causes of stroke and get tested regularly.




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