Atrial fibrillation is an under-diagnosed, undertreated abnormal heart
rhythm that increases stroke risk five-fold compared to the general
World Stroke Day 2013
BERLIN, Oct. 29, 2013 /CNW/ - By World Stroke Day 2013 (October 29) more
than 500,000 people have shown their support for the Sign Against Stroke in Atrial Fibrillation campaign, calling for urgent coordinated action to avoid the thousands
of preventable strokes that leave many atrial fibrillation (AF)
patients disabled or dead every year. Despite widespread fear of stroke
and its devastating consequences, many people are unaware of AF and its
link to stroke, highlighting a critical educational and medical
challenge for policy makers and healthcare providers.
Every year, 15 million people worldwide experience a stroke.
Approximately five million of these suffer permanent disabilities and
over five million more die, accounting for 10% of all deaths worldwide. Sign Against Stroke in Atrial Fibrillation supports the world's only Global AF Patient Charter that calls for more
education to raise awareness of the signs of AF, driving earlier
diagnosis, and ensuring patients receive the appropriate care, so fewer
families suffer the devastation caused by an AF-related stroke.
Alarmingly, the first time many people will find out they have AF is
when they have a stroke, with these strokes being more severe, causing
greater disability and having a worse outcome than strokes in people
without. People who have a stroke caused by AF are more likely to remain in
hospital for longer, are less likely to be discharged to their home and
are 50% more likely to remain disabled, relying on long-term care from
their families or nursing homes.
Healthcare costs associated with stroke are higher for patients with AF
than for patients without AF, leading to a significant clinical and
economic burden on individuals and society, especially in an ever
ageing population. Preventing AF in patients at risk, diagnosing AF before the first
stroke occurs and following recommendations regarding the use of
anticoagulation, including consideration of new treatment options,, are critical for effective prevention of up to 70%,, of AF-related strokes.
"We urge people to visit http://www.signagainststroke.com and sign in support of the Global AF Patient Charter. We are calling
upon healthcare decision makers to ensure AF is recognised as a serious
risk factor for stroke, and that concrete actions are defined in
national plans that support earlier diagnosis and improved awareness,
education and prevention," said Mellanie True Hills, Founder and CEO of
StopAfib.org. "It is our hope that national governments will address this as they
plan for how to meet the United Nations' commitment to reduce
non-communicable diseases by 25% by the year 2025."
Atrial Fibrillation and Stroke - The Link
70 million people worldwide are affected by AF,. The irregular heartbeat of AF causes blood to pool and can result in
the development of blood clots, which may travel to the brain,
triggering a major and often fatal stroke. AF is age related, with
those over 40 having a one in four chance of developing it. AF has no geographic, gender or socio-economic boundaries and
increases stroke risk by 500%, accounting for 15-20% of all ischaemic strokes (strokes caused by
blood clots). In addition, AF-related strokes are more severe than other strokes,
with a 50% likelihood of death within one year.
The impact of AF-related stroke is predicted to rise dramatically as the
number of individuals affected by AF is expected to increase 2.5 fold
by 2050, due to an ageing population and improved survival of patients with
conditions which predispose AF (e.g., heart attack).
Because More Than 500,000 Care about Preventing AF-Related Stroke
The theme of this year's World Stroke Day is "Because I care". By
supporting the Global AF Patient Charter, over 500,000 people and 101
patient organisations, medical and other non-governmental organisations
including the World Stroke Organisation, have demonstrated they care
and that action is needed to prevent thousands of AF-related strokes
About the Global AF Patient Charter and Sign Against Stroke Campaign
In a global call to action, 101 patient organisations, medical and other
non-governmental organisations from around the world have endorsed the
Charter, asking the public, healthcare professionals and policy makers
to drive change in AF diagnosis and care, preventing AF-related
strokes. The goal of Sign Against Stroke is to gather 1.7 million signatures in support of the Charter - one for
each of the estimated number of grandparents, mothers, fathers, aunts
and uncles killed or disabled by AF strokes every year - and provide
those signatures to healthcare decision makers in countries across the
world. Demonstrating strong support behind the Charter recommendations
will help put AF and AF-related stroke prevention at the forefront of
national health agendas.
The Global AF Patient Charter was developed by a Steering Committee
comprised of representatives from Patient Organisations, including
AntiCoagulation Europe, Arrhythmia Alliance, Atrial Fibrillation
Association, Irish Heart Foundation, StopAfib.org and Stroke Alliance for Europe, in collaboration with 39 founding
Patient Organisations from 20 countries. A full list of collaborating
organisations is available on the website, http://www.signagainststroke.com.
People can learn about AF and stroke and read and sign the Charter,
which is available in 22 languages on the Campaign website, http://www.signagainststroke.com. All signatures contribute to driving action to prevent AF-related
strokes and improving future outcomes and quality of life of people
diagnosed with AF.
Bayer HealthCare has proudly supported the Global AF Patient Charter and
Sign Against Stroke Campaign since its creation in 2011 and remains committed to working
together with all key stakeholders involved to help improve AF patient
The Atlas of Heart Disease and Stroke. World Health Organisation. http://www.who.int/cardiovascular_diseases/en/cvd_atlas_15_burden_stroke.pdf Last accessed 28 October 2013.
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SOURCE: Bayer HealthCare
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