News | September 22, 2011

AHA Survey Reveals Half of AFib Patients Unaware of Increased Stroke Risk

September 22, 2011 — Half the people who have atrial fibrillation deny or don’t know they have a higher risk for stroke, according to a new American Heart Association survey.

Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, is a quivering or irregular heartbeat that affects about 2.7 million Americans.

The most serious risk of AFib is the other conditions it can lead to, including stroke. Yet, in the association’s survey of 502 adults living with the condition, only 8 percent said stroke is their greatest health concern. Stroke is the No. 3 killer in America, behind heart disease and cancer.

“While there’s a lot known about atrial fibrillation, there’s a lot unknown as well,” said Mark Estes III, M.D., professor of medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, Mass. “The American Heart Association’s goal for AFib is to bridge those knowledge gaps through research and education. By helping people better understand their risks, we can impact treatment and prevention of AFib and AFib-related strokes.”

Of those surveyed, half thought they were at risk for stroke; 25 percent said they weren’t at risk; and 25 percent did not know.

The survey also found that:

- Only two-thirds recalled that their healthcare provider talked with them about their elevated stroke risk.

- Among the 66 percent of AFib patients who talked with their doctors, 21 percent said they were told they have no stroke risk.

“Patients need to be aware of this risk and have serious conversations with their healthcare providers about what they should be doing to prevent stroke,” Estes said.

For more information: www.heart.org/afib

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