For the past 60 years, those suffering from atrial fibrillation had only one choice of blood thinner -- one that was far from perfect -- to address a life-threatening situation. But now there are new products on the market. "They're enormous breakthroughs," says Hugh Calkins, a professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins. Roughly 2.7 million Americans suffer from atrial fibrillation, a condition in which the heart beats irregularly. Untreated atrial fibrillation doubles the risk of heart-related deaths and increases the risk for stroke by fivefold, according to the American Heart Association. That's because with atrial fibrillation, the heart isn't pumping in a regular rhythm, so there's a higher risk of clots developing that could go from the heart to the brain, causing a stroke. To prevent this, the majority of atrial fibrillation patients are put on blood thinners to prevent the formation of life-threatening clots.
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