By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Atrial fibrillation is a very common and yet very serious heart condition.

The problem with ‘a-fib’ is that it is an irregular heartbeat that can lead to a situation where clots can damage the brain and result in stroke.

Ideally physicians would like to control a-fib and stop the heart from beating in this irregular manner. There are medications and treatments that can help but, for others, the problem cannot be controlled and blood thinners have to be started to prevent potentially damaging clots from forming.

Either way, the problem needs to be diagnosed so one of the treatments can be used.

Dr. Brian McDonough