Survey Finds Nearly One In Two Americans Unaware of Condition That Leads to Increased Stroke Risk

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Posted: Tuesday, July 23, 2013 7:00 pm

(BPT) - In a survey conducted in 1,407 people, one in two adults age 48 and older were not familiar with atrial fibrillation. Fifteen percent of all strokes are attributable to Nonvalvular Atrial Fibrillation (NVAF), which is a type of irregular heartbeat not caused by a heart valve problem. AFib can lead to blood clots that can cause strokes. With AFib, the two upper chambers of the heart (the atria) do not fully contract as they usually do. Instead, the atria quiver or fibrillate. As a result, some blood can remain in the atria, where it can pool, clump together and form a blood clot. The clot can then break loose and travel to the brain, where it may limit or block blood flow, causing a stroke. People with atrial fibrillation are at a five times greater risk of stroke than those without atrial fibrillation. Additionally, AFib-related stroke may be more severe than strokes not associated with AFib.

“The Atrial Fibrillation Insights Survey explored awareness about AFib and the risk of stroke,” says AFA founder and CEO Trudie Lobban MBE. “We were surprised to find less than half of individuals surveyed with AFib know that they are at an increased risk for death.”

Additionally according to the survey, 38 percent who self-identified as having AFib do not consider it to be a life-threatening condition.

“The survey reveals a general lack of knowledge about AFib and stroke risk,” says JoAnne M. Foody, MD, FACC, FAHA. “It’s concerning that many people don’t seem to understand who is at risk – or the potential dangers associated with the condition.”

Beyond the survey results, people with NVAF sometimes feel no symptoms and may be unaware they have it. That is why NVAF may even be discovered during routine medical checkups.

If you have NVAF, Dr. Foody encourages you to talk to your health care provider about reducing your risk for stroke. “There are treatment options available that can help lower your risk of stroke.”

The Atrial Fibrillation Insights Survey was supported by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer Inc.

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