Stroke Recovery Association of British Columbia warns too many are in
the dark about atrial fibrillation, a serious heart condition that can
lead to the most debilitating type of stroke
VANCOUVER, Jan. 19, 2012 /CNW/ - Startling new results from a Stroke Recovery Association of British Columbia survey, conducted by
Leger Marketing, show 2 in 5 (37 per cent) people in BC would rather
lose a limb than survive a stroke and more than 1 in 4 (27 per cent)
say surviving a stroke would be worse than dying. And while British
Columbians are fearful of the consequences of a stroke, the majority
aren't familiar with the basic facts of atrial fibrillation (AF) - a
common and serious heart condition that can lead to the most severe and
debilitating type of stroke.1 What's more, three-quarters (75 per cent) falsely believe that AF is
tied to an increased risk of heart attack while only 47 per cent
understand its connection to stroke.1
There are approximately 48,000 British Columbians living with AF, which
causes the heart to beat irregularly. After the age of 55, the
incidence of AF doubles with each decade of life.2 People with AF are three to five times more at risk of having a stroke
than those without AF and they are twice as likely to die from one.2 For those who survive the stroke, the disabilities can be significant -
paralysis, loss of speech and understanding and effects on the memory,
thought and emotional processes.
"Many stroke survivors go on to have successful and enjoyable lives.
They learn to make the most of the abilities they have. However, we
still need to do everything we can to prevent strokes," says Tim
Readman, Executive Director of the Stroke Recovery Association of
British Columbia. "To me, the biggest concern is the lack of awareness
about atrial fibrillation because this means people aren't protecting
themselves. The effects of a stroke can be physically and financially
debilitating. People need to be active participants in their own
health, which means being aware of their risk if they have AF, and
taking the necessary precautions to prevent stroke."
Jack Corstanje understands how easy it is to live with AF and not know
it. Ten years ago, he suffered from an AF-related stroke after
under-going open-heart surgery.
"I could feel that my heartbeat was irregular, but I didn't know I had
atrial fibrillation until I suffered the stroke six weeks after my
surgery. My recovery process was long and painful. It took five years
to gain back the life I had before the stroke, but with the support of
my family and medical team, I am able to walk and drive again," says
Corstanje. "I feel incredibly lucky to have recovered and I encourage
anyone who thinks they may have atrial fibrillation to discuss the
condition with their doctor."
The survey also revealed that 68 per cent of British Columbians do not
know how to prevent an AF-related stroke.1 To help bridge that knowledge gap and raise awareness of AF, a new
website has been developed: www.StrokeAndAF.ca Visitors can not only learn the facts about AF, but they can also find
questions to ask their doctor, tips on living with AF and suggestions
"AF-related strokes cause a multitude of negative outcomes - to
patients, their families, the health care system and the community. By
taking preventative steps, we can stop many of those strokes from
happening in the first place and eliminate the burden they cause," says
Dr. Philip Teal, Head of the Stroke Prevention Clinic at Vancouver
General Hospital and Professor of Neurology, Faculty of Medicine,
University of British Columbia. "There is clearly a massive gap in
knowledge related to this condition, which is why it's important to
educate people about what AF is, how common it is and the consequences
of having an AF-related stroke."
According to the survey, British Columbians have an appreciation for the
impact a severe stroke could potentially have on their lives. In fact,
7 in 10 fear losing their independence due to stroke and the same
amount fear losing their speech / ability to communicate. Other fears
British Columbians have include losing their mobility (66 per cent),
not fully recovering from a stroke (64 per cent) and being a burden on
their family (62 per cent).1
"Our goal is to get more people to take action and protect themselves
from stroke, and the most important first step in doing this is to
raise awareness about atrial fibrillation," says Readman.
About the Survey
The online survey was conducted by Leger Marketing between October 24
and 26, 2011, with a sample size of 1,003 British Columbians 18+ years
of age. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of
error of +/-3.1%, 19 times out of 20.
About Stroke in Canada
In Canada, stroke is the leading cause of adult disability and the third
leading cause of death2 with up to 15 per cent of strokes being caused by AF.2 The health care costs for patients in the first six months after a
stroke totals more than $2.5 billion a year, with direct and indirect
costs for each patient averaging $50,000 in the first six months
following a stroke.3 People with non-disabling strokes spend up to $24,000 during the first
six months and the costs for families can increase to over $100,000 for
the most severely affected.4 Examples of stroke-related expenses to families include those
associated with care giving, transportation and lost income.
About Stroke Recovery Association of British Columbia
The Stroke Recovery Association of British Columbia is committed to
assisting stroke survivors and their caregivers throughout British
Columbia to promote their independence and improve their overall
quality of life. This is done through a variety of community support
programs and services, and public education campaigns executed by the
thirty-seven regional Stroke Recovery Branches across the province.
1 Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.2009 Stroke Report Card
2 Canadian Stroke Network. http://www.canadianstrokenetwork.ca/index.php/about/about-stroke/stroke-101/ (Accessed July 5, 2010)
3 http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=ikIQLcMWJtE&b=6074245&ct=8425975 (Accessed October 19, 2010)
4 Mittmann N, Seung SJ, Sharma M, and the BURST study investigators.
Impact of disability status on ischaemic stroke costs. Presented at the
2010 International Stroke Congress, Feb 25 2010, San Antonio, TX.
Poster P538; Stroke; 41;4:e390.
SOURCE Stroke Recovery Association of British Columbia
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