Reducing Stroke Risk with Atrial Fibrillation Treatment

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In 2015, there were approximately 1.5 million newly diagnosed cases of stroke in Europe1, with 1 in 4 patients diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) after suffering a stroke2.  Estimates suggest that over the next 12 years, there will be a 70% increase in the number of people affected by Atrial Fibrillation and an additional 280,000 – 340,000 ischemic strokes3.  While public awareness around stroke has increased in recent years, for National Stroke Awareness Month we aim to spread awareness around one of the leading causes of stroke: AFib.

AFib is characterized by a rapid or irregular heartbeat, which may cause blood to pool in the heart and ultimately form blood clots. If a blood clot travels to the brain, it can cause a stroke by blocking blood flow to the cerebral arteries.4 AFib can increase your risk for stroke by 2.4 times.5

Detecting and treating AFib early can help prevent severe strokes. Treatment for AFib is designed to manage abnormal heart rate or rhythm and reduce the risk of blood clots and stroke. These treatment options range from medications to procedures that help treat arrhythmias, such as catheter ablation. “The risk of having a stroke for people living with AFib is high, and the impact can be detrimental for a patient’s quality of life,” said Dr. Rajesh Banker, an AFib expert and renowned electrophysiologist. “The most important thing someone with AFib can do is meet with a heart specialist to discuss possible treatments.”

When Martin Taylor, a former marathon runner, was diagnosed with AFib, his condition was treated with catheter ablation. The procedure is used to restore the heart’s normal rhythm, ultimately reducing the risk of stroke by up to 46% over 7 years6,7 compared to anti-arrhythmic drugs. After his procedure, Martin was able to return to running — without physical limitations from AFib. *

In general, AFib patients treated with catheter ablation had a lower risk of stroke compared to those who did not receive ablation.8  Learn more about AFib and how radiofrequency catheter ablation helped Martin regain control of his life.

Speak to your patients with AFib about their increased risk of stroke. Help your patients learn more about the condition and treatment options to prevent stroke before it happens.  For resources around symptom information, a doctor discussion guide and patient stories, your patients can visit Get Smart About AFib.

References

1) Wilkins E, Wilson L, Wickramasinghe K, Bhatnagar P, Leal J et al. (2017) European cardiovascular disease statistics 2017.

 2) Kirchhof P, Benussi S, Kotecha D, Ahlsson A, Atar D et al. (2016) 2016 ESC Guidelines for the management of atrial fibrillation developed in collaboration with EACTS. Eur Heart J 37 (38): 2893-2962.

 3) Zoni-Berisso M, Lercari F, Carazza T, Domenicucci S (2014) Epidemiology of atrial fibrillation: European perspective. Clin Epidemiol 6 213-220.

 4) National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Atrial Fibrillation and Stroke Information Page. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Atrial-Fibrillation-and-Stroke-Information-Page. Accessed May 13, 2020.

 5) Odutayo A, Wong CX, Hsiao AJ, Hopewell S, Altman DG et al. (2016) Atrial fibrillation and risks of cardiovascular disease, renal disease, and death: systematic review and meta-analysis. Bmj 354 i4482.

 6) Packer DL, et al. (2019) Effect of Catheter Ablation vs Antiarrhythmic Drug Therapy on Mortality, Stroke, Bleeding, and Cardiac Arrest Among Patients With Atrial Fibrillation: The CABANA Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. Apr 2;321(13):1261-1274

 7) Noseworthy PA, et al. (2019) Atrial fibrillation ablation in practice: assessing CABANA generalizability. Eur Heart J 40 (16):1257-1264.

 8) Bunch, T. Jared, et al. "Patients treated with catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation have long‐term rates of death, stroke, and dementia similar to patients without atrial fibrillation." Journal of cardiovascular electrophysiology 22.8 (2011): 839-845.