Heart Of The Matter: Survey Shows Many Canadians Misunderstand Common Heart Rhythm Disorders

The Heart Rhythm Society Sheds Light on the Facts and Offers Health Tips during Heart Health Month in February

WASHINGTON, Feb. 12, 2013 /CNW/ - According to a new survey issued by the Heart Rhythm Society (HRS), most Canadians are unfamiliar with the facts and risk factors associated with two serious and potentially life-threatening heart rhythm disorders: atrial fibrillation (AF) and sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). In fact, more than 65 percent of Canadians mistakenly thought SCA is a type of heart attack, and two in five have never even heard of AF.

In observance of Heart Health Month this February, HRS led by its current president and Professor of Medicine at the University of Calgary, Dr. Anne Gillis, highlights the need for greater public education on heart rhythm disorders that affect millions of people.

"It's alarming to see the number of Canadians that misunderstand these common, yet serious heart rhythm disorders. The Society is committed to increasing awareness about risk factors, symptoms and proper treatment of these disorders," said Anne M. Gillis, MD, FHRS, president of the Heart Rhythm Society. "Being more informed helps patients have smarter conversations with their doctor and, ultimately, improve patient care. This February, I encourage all of you to take charge of your heart health and talk to your doctor about risks."

Fact vs. Fiction...and the Survey Says
SCA Fact: Each year, up to 40,000 Canadians experience SCA – which equivalents to one episode every 12 minutes.i SCA occurs when the heart stops beating, abruptly and without warning. It can happen to people of all ages and health conditions. For those patients who are at particularly high risk, implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) may be the most successful therapy to prevent SCA.

  • Survey Says: Majority of Canadians are uncertain of the prevalence, indicators and treatment of SCA. For example, less than half were able to identify ICDs as the most effective treatment for those who are at greatest risk of the condition.

AF Fact: AF is the most common arrhythmia and affects approximately 350,000 Canadians.i Individuals with AF are at a significantly greater risk of stroke compared to those who do not have the disorder. AF can also cause heart palpitations that feel like a fish flopping, thunder rumbling or drums pounding in one's chest.

  • Survey Says: Less than half of Canadians that have heard of AF knew that it radically increases one's risk of having a stroke or how to recognize what AF might feel like when it occurs.

Know Your Risk: Heart Rhythm Society Prevention Pulse Points
During Heart Health Month, take a close look at heart health and five simple ways to help prevent and seek early treatment for these common heart conditions.

  1. Small Choices, Big Heart Benefits: Live a healthy lifestyle — exercise regularly, eat healthy foods, maintain a healthy weight and avoid smoking to help reduce the chance of heart health problems.
  2. Know Your Rhythm: Pay attention to abnormal heart rhythms — palpitations, fast or slow heart rates, fluttering in your chest and shortness of breath can also be signs of rhythm disorders.
  3. By The Numbers: Treat and monitor health conditions that can contribute to heart problems, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
  4. Family First: Know your family medical history and understand the associated risk for other cardiovascular related conditions, like heart failure.
  5. Don't Skip A Beat: Document your symptoms and discuss them with a clinician/electrophysiologist to determine the best treatment options for you.

HRS has developed two consumer awareness campaigns to focus on risk assessment, prevention and treatment of SCA and AF. The "Apples and Oranges" campaign explains the differences between SCA and a heart attack, while the "AFib Feels Like" campaign brings to light the warning signs of AF and the link between AF and stroke. Altogether, these campaigns provide detailed information to help people become more informed about common heart health issues.

For more information about the Heart Rhythm Society please visit, www.HRSonline.org.

About the Heart Rhythm Society
The Heart Rhythm Society is the international leader in science, education and advocacy for cardiac arrhythmia professionals and patients, and the primary information resource on heart rhythm disorders. Its mission is to improve the care of patients by promoting research, education and optimal health care policies and standards. Incorporated in 1979 and based in Washington, DC, it has a membership of more than 5,800 heart rhythm professionals in more than 70 countries around the world. www.hrsonline.org

[i] Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada

Contact: Kennesha Baldwin
(202) 464-3476
kbaldwin@HRSonline.org

Allison Kassel
(703) 739-8362
akassel@brgcommunications.com

SOURCE: Heart Rhythm Society

For further information:

http://www.hrsonline.org