Good News in Stroke Prevention: New Unique Treatment Now Approved

New option available for Canadians with irregular heart rhythm in need of crucial therapy

OTTAWA, Dec. 6, 2012 /CNW/ - The Stroke Survivors Association of Ottawa welcomes the recent approval by Health Canada of Eliquis (apixaban), a new anti-blood clotting therapy to prevent strokes in people with atrial fibrillation (AF), a condition involving an irregular heart rhythm which greatly increases the risk of disabling and fatal strokes.

"Strokes caused by AF are preventable, yet still, one in five strokes are in people with AF. Even with the recent introduction of new treatments, there are patients who are not getting the effective therapy they need and they remain at risk," said Janet McTaggart, Executive Director of the Stroke Survivors Association of Ottawa. "We are very encouraged by the Health Canada approval of Eliquis, providing another prevention option. Ensuring access to these preventative therapies in all patients with atrial fibrillation would result in fewer fatal and debilitating strokes."

One third of all strokes in people over age 60 are in people with AF and the strokes they have tend to be more serious, causing greater disability and twice as high a risk of death. Until the recent introduction of newer anticoagulation drugs, of which Eliquis is the third now available, the main anti-coagulation therapy has been warfarin. Despite this, there remain many at-risk patients who are not being treated either all or with alternatives that are safe but not necessarily as effective as the other treatments, because currently access to new agents is restricted to patients who fail warfarin. The approval of Eliquis gives patients, not only a new option that is demonstrated in clinical trials to be more effective than warfarin in preventing strokes and mortality, but also for the first time, a treatment that is proven to be as safe as Aspirin.

"While warfarin can be effective, administration and monitoring are complicated and it is not always a good option for all people with AF," said Janet who became active with the Stroke Survivors Association of Ottawa following personal tragedy after her father suffered an AF-related stroke. "My father was an active 74 year old who made the decision to stop treatment because it didn't fit into his lifestyle and within months suffered a massive stroke.  This changed all our lives."

Stroke remains a huge burden on the lives of patients and their families and our healthcare resources. Government funding for newer, effective anticoagulation therapy is a worthwhile investment and should be a priority.

About Stroke and Atrial Fibrillation in Canada
Approximately 50,000 strokes occur in Canada each year and 14,000 Canadians die from stroke each year. About 315,000 Canadians are living with the after-effects of a stroke. Atrial fibrillation (AF) affects about 350,000 Canadians and causes a five-fold increase in the risk of stroke due to inconsistent blood flow which can allow blood clots to form. As a result, 15 per cent of all strokes are in people with AF. In those older than 60, one third of all strokes occur in people with AF. Strokes in people with AF tend to be more severe, with a death rate twice as high as that of strokes unrelated to AF and resulting in more severe disabilities.

About Stroke Survivors Association of Ottawa
Stroke Survivors Association of Ottawa (SSAO) provides stroke survivors, their families, caregivers, professionals and the general public with a wide variety of support services, community re-engagement, advocacy, education and other programs. As well, SSAO has connections to many Ottawa and surrounding area stroke supports.

SOURCE: Stroke Survivors Association of Ottawa

For further information:

Janet McTaggart
Executive Director
Stroke Survivors Association of Ottawa
613-237-0650 (Stroke Line)

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Stroke Survivors Association of Ottawa

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