If you are at risk of a stroke related to atrial fibrillation (AFib), your doctor may recommend a treatment plan to reduce your risk. Your treatment plan may include medications or lifestyle changes.
Some people who are at risk of a stroke related to atrial fibrillation (AFib) may need medications. Your doctor may recommend a medication based on whether you have had a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) in the past, your medical conditions, and your other risk factors for a stroke. Such medications include anticoagulant medications and antiplatelet medications. Antiplatelet medications and some anticoagulant medications can be used to reduce the risk of a stroke.
The main side effect of antiplatelet and anticoagulant medications is bleeding or bruising. Some may also cause skin rash, upset stomach, liver disorder, or diarrhea. This is not a complete list of all possible side effects. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist for full information on side effects of a particular medication. The choice of medication will depend on your individual circumstances, your medical history, your risk of a stroke, and your risk of bleeding.
Medications have side effects and are not right for everyone.
Your doctor may also recommend lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of stroke related to atrial fibrillation, such as healthy eating, physical activity, reaching a healthy weight, using alcohol in moderation, quitting smoking, and learning to manage stress.
Talk to your doctor to learn more about your options. It's especially important to talk to your doctor if:
- you are not sure why you are taking the medication or how long you will need to take it
- you are not sure how much medication to take or when to take it
- you sometimes forget or skip doses of your medication*
- you are not sure which side effects your medication could cause, or what to do if they happen
- you are having side effects from your medication
- you are not sure which medications or foods could interfere with your medication
- you find it inconvenient to take your medication*
- you have any other questions or concerns about your medication
*To get the most out of your medication, it is important to take it exactly as directed. If you sometimes miss doses of your medication, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about what to do if you miss a dose and how to make it easier to take your medication.
Use the Doctor Discussion Guide to help you prepare for your doctor's visit.
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