EDMONTON, May 1, 2012 /CNW/ - Your heart races or beats out of rhythm for no reason. It may not seem like a big deal - but you may be at risk of having a serious stroke.
Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) is a common heart rhythm disorder that causes the heart to beat irregularly. Stroke is one of the leading causes of death globally, with Atrial Fibrillation accounting for one in six strokes. In Alberta, 30,000 people have been diagnosed with this condition, but many more have gone unchecked.
Today, Alberta Health and Wellness added dabigatran etexilate, known as Pradax™, to the Drug Benefit List for the prevention of stroke and systemic embolism in patients with Atrial Fibrillation. This innovative drug therapy was approved for this specified use by Health Canada in October 2010. "For over 50 years there has only been one real option for effective blood thinning to prevent stroke in atrial fibrillation - warfarin, says Dr. Russell Quinn, a leading Atrial Fibrillation cardiologist at the Libin Cardiovascular Institute in Calgary. "After recent large clinical trials we are finally now seeing new agents being released, such as dabigatran, which may be more effective at reducing the risk of stroke and have significant advantages for some patients."
It is estimated that nearly half of all patients diagnosed with AFib are actually on blood thinners. "Although warfarin is effective, it requires very close monitoring to ensure it is working at optimal levels", said Dr. Ashfaq Shuaib, Director of the Stroke Program at the University of Alberta Hospital. "Through the innovation of Pradax, there are significant benefits to patient health and safety, especially in the prevention of stroke.
Pradax™ is the first new treatment that has been offered for Atrial Fibrillation-related stroke in decades and will fundamentally change the way patients with AFib are treated in the prevention of stroke. One out of every four people over the age of 40 will develop AFib. After the age of 55, the incidence of AFib doubles with each decade of life. After age 60, one-third of all strokes are caused by AF1.
Alberta is positioning itself as a important leader in the diagnosis and treatment of AFib. The Atrial Fibrillation Clinic in Calgary is Alberta's only clinic devoted to AFib and is a partner in an innovative new initiative called the Integration of Care in Atrial Fibrillation (ICAF) project. Through this project, the Foothills Primary Care Network (PCN) is demonstrating that a simple pulse check can identify patients with undiagnosed AFib and these patients can then be assessed for their risk of stroke. Nearly 20-30% of people who have AF don't have any symptoms, but have the same risk of complications as those who have been diagnosed. "It's essential that we identify patients who have Atrial Fibrillation and offer the best treatment to minimize the risk of stroke," says Dr. Richard Ward, a family physician involved with the ICAF Project.
- Reference: Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. 2009 Stroke Report Card. http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=ikIQLcMWJtE&b=4955951&ct=7085089&src=report (Accessed July 5, 2010)
For further information:
Media contact, ICAF Project