In 2020, an estimated 795,000 people in the United States will experience a stroke,1 and nearly a third of those may be caused by atrial fibrillation (AFib).2 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.3 AFib can increase the risk of stroke by five times.4
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 Sam Choy, a chef and TV host, 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 more than 50%.5 After his procedure, Sam was able to get back to traveling, deep-sea fishing, and teaching his audience to cook—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.6 Learn more about AFib and how radiofrequency catheter ablation helped Sam get back to his busy 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 identification of symptoms information, a physician discussion guide and patient stories, your patients can visit GetSmartAboutAFib.com.
1. Mozaffarian, Dariush, et al. “Correction to: Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2015 Update: A Report from the American Heart Association.” Circulation, vol. 136, no. 10, 27 Jan. 2015, 10.1161/cir.0000000000000152.
2. Kathrin Hahne, Gerold Mönnig, and Alexander Samol. 2016. Atrial fibrillation and silent stroke: links, risks, and challenges. 2016; 12: 65–74.
3. 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
4. Fohtung, R. B., & Rich, M. W. (2016). Identification of Patients at Risk of Stroke from Atrial Fibrillation. US Cardiology Review, 10(2), 60–64. doi: https://doi.org/10.15420/usc.2016:1:1
5. Reynolds, Matthew R., et al. “Health Outcomes with Catheter Ablation or Antiarrhythmic Drug Therapy in Atrial Fibrillation.” Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, vol. 5, no. 2, Mar. 2012, pp. 171–181, 10.1161/circoutcomes.111.963108. Accessed 18 Mar. 2020.
*Disclosure: As with any medical treatment, individual results may vary. Only a cardiologist or electrophysiologist can determine whether ablation is an appropriate treatment option. There are potential risks including bleeding, swelling or bruising at the catheter insertion site, and infection. More serious complications are rare, which can include damage to the heart or blood vessels; blood clots (which may lead to stroke); heart attack, or death. These risks need to be discussed with your doctor and recovery takes time. The success of this procedure depends on many factors, including your physical condition and your body’s ability to tolerate the procedure. Use care in the selection of your doctors and hospital, based on their skill and experience.
6. 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.
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