It is no longer uncommon to see young and apparently healthy people getting a stroke -- and the cause may well be a heart rhythm disorder.
So the next time you experience a rapid and irregular heart beat in carrying out not so stressful activities like climbing stairs, time may be ripe for you to visit the doctor to check for atrial fibrillation - a condition involving an irregular heart rhythm, known as arrhythmia.
People with symptomatic A-fib, as it is commonly called, may experience periodic palpitations, chest discomfort, shortness of breath, unusual fatigue or dizziness, said researchers at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).
"People with a high rate of premature atrial contractions face a significantly increased risk of developing A-fib," Gregory M. Marcus, senior author and director of clinical research at UCSF's cardiology division, was quoted as saying.
However, "the condition is also becoming more prevalent at any age, experts say, because of a rise in three leading risk factors - high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity", added the study, published in Annals of Internal Medicine.
Other risk factors include a prior heart attack, overactive thyroid, sleep apnea, excessive alcohol consumption, abnormal heart valves, lung disease and congenital heart defects.
Important steps in treating A-fib, said the study, are to include taking proper steps to reverse the risk factors and preventing "blood clots from forming by treating patients with anticoagulant".
Here is a warning.
"Once a person has had A-fib, there is an increased risk of stroke even if their heart is in normal rhythm," the study concluded.