Ask the doctor: Ongoing treatment for atrial fibrillation

Q. Last year, I was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and started taking an anti-clotting drug to lower my stroke risk. But my heart is now back in a normal rhythm. Why is my cardiologist keeping me on the drug?

A. During a bout of atrial fibrillation, or afib, the heart's upper chambers (atria) quiver erratically instead of making normal, steady contractions. This common heart rhythm disorder takes many different forms. While some people seem to have a single, isolated episode of afib, others have persistent afib, which lasts longer than a week. Common symptoms include a rapid, irregular heartbeat; a fluttering or "thumping" sensation in the chest; and feeling weak, dizzy, breathless, or fatigued.

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