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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Does atrial fibrillation lead to increase risk of death?

    Most patients would agree that AF episodes are very frightening and bring on a lot of anxiety. For some reason I have this fear that AF can lead to sudden death. Can someone expand on this?
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  • 2

    Thanks

    Dr Andrei Catanchin

    Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

    Dr Catanchin is a cardiologist and electrophysiologist managing atrial fibrillation and other heart rhythm disorders with medication, devices (ie. pacemakers, defibrillators) and catheter ablation. He … View Profile

    AF is highly unlikely to cause sudden death. Many patients are unaware of their AF, others find it a nuisance, others feel unwell and anxious but AF almost never causes more trouble than this, particularly if appropriately treated. A lot depends on what other medical problems (if any) are present.

    Having said that (and because of your specific question), there are very rare instances where sudden death may be of concern (such as in the presence of an abnormal nerve in the heart (accessory pathway or WPW)) - this would have shown up on your ECG if present.

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