Interactive Tool: What Is Your Risk for a Stroke if You Have Atrial Fibrillation?

What does this tool help you learn?

This interactive tool measures the chance of having a stroke in the next 5 years, for people who are age 55 or older and have atrial fibrillation. This tool is based on information from the Framingham Heart Study. Since 1948 the Framingham Heart Study has studied the progression of heart disease and its risk factors.

This tool is not meant for people who are already at high risk for a stroke. Ask your doctor if this tool is for you.

What do the results tell you?

Your score will appear as a value from 1% to 99%. If your score is 5%, it means that 5 out of 100 people with this level of risk will have a stroke in the next 5 years. If your score is 10%, it means that 10 out of 100 people with this level of risk will have a stroke in the next 5 years.

This information can help you and your doctor decide the best way to keep your stroke risk as low as possible. For example, these percentages are one way your doctor can decide if an anticoagulant (blood thinner), such as warfarin, is the right medicine to help lower your risk of stroke.

If you are above a 10% risk, talk to your doctor about taking an anticoagulant. You will want to weigh the benefits of reducing your risk of stroke against the risks of taking an anticoagulant. These medicines work well to prevent stroke. But they also increase the risk of bleeding. Your doctor may also check your risk of bleeding from an anticoagulant to see if it's right for you.

If you are at a 10% risk or lower, you may get enough protection from stroke by taking aspirin. Aspirin may be a good choice if you are young and have no other heart or health problems or if you can't take an anticoagulant safely. Aspirin doesn't work as well as an anticoagulant to reduce your stroke risk. But aspirin is less likely to cause bleeding problems.

Other antiplatelet medicines, such as clopidogrel (Plavix), may be used. Your doctor may have you take them with aspirin or instead of aspirin. When aspirin and clopidogrel are used together, they may reduce the risk for stroke more than aspirin alone. But this combination is also more likely to cause bleeding than aspirin alone.

What's next?

Talk to your doctor about how to lower your risk of stroke if you have atrial fibrillation.

For help deciding if taking an anticoagulant is right for you, see:

Click here to view a Decision Point. Atrial Fibrillation: Should I Take an Anticoagulant to Prevent Stroke?

For help deciding which anticoagulant to take, see:

Click here to view a Decision Point. Atrial Fibrillation: Which Anticoagulant Should I Take to Prevent Stroke?

For more information, see the topic Atrial Fibrillation.

This tool was derived from Wang TJ, et al. (2003). A risk score for predicting stroke or death in individuals with new-onset atrial fibrillation in the community: The Framingham heart study. JAMA, 290(8): 1049–1056. The Framingham Heart Study is a project of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, a part of the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Boston University. More information is available online at www.framinghamheartstudy.org.

References

Other Works Consulted

  • Fuster V, et al. (2011). 2011 ACCF/AHA/HRS focused update incorporated into the ACC/AHA/ESC 2006 guidelines for the management of patients with atrial fibrillation: A report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Circulation, 123(10): e269–e367.
  • Wang TJ, et al. (2003). A risk score for predicting stroke or death in individuals with new-onset atrial fibrillation in the community: The Framingham heart study. JAMA, 290(8): 1049–1056.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
John M. Miller, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Last Revised May 20, 2013

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.