September is National Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month:

Americans Lack Awareness About Atrial Fibrillation and Stroke Risk

Centennial, CONational Stroke Association and iRhythm Technologies are observing National Atrial Fibrillation (Afib) Awareness Month with insights from a new survey evaluating public awareness of Afib. Approximately 2.7 million Americans are living with diagnosed Afib, and another 850,000 are estimated to have Afib and remain undiagnosed. Afib is an irregular heartbeat which may cause blood to collect in the heart and form a clot. These clots can travel to the brain, blocking small blood vessels and causing a stroke.

The survey of 1,013 Americans shows a lack of awareness of symptoms associated with Afib in the general population. Nearly half of the respondents do not know about the primary symptoms of Afib such as pounding, fluttering, racing sensations in the chest and heart palpitations. A majority of the population is unaware of other common symptoms such as shortness of breath (63% not aware), dizziness or light-headedness (66% not aware) and fatigue (73% not aware). Almost 80% of respondents lack the knowledge that Afib could have no symptoms at all.

"Afib is an important cause of stroke especially as we get older. Primary symptoms of Afib include racing or pounding sensations in the chest, palpitations, shortness of breath and dizziness. Patients with any of these symptoms--especially those over 65 years of age or who have high blood pressure, diabetes, heart failure or prior stroke--should ask their healthcare provider about Afib,” explained National Stroke Association board member Dr. Philip Gorelick.Because you can have Afib without any symptoms, an electrocardiogram or prolonged heart rhythm monitoring test may be needed to detect Afib. If you have Afib and are at high risk of stroke based on your medical history, your doctor may recommend oral anticoagulant therapy. Oral anticoagulant therapy substantially reduces the risk of stroke in persons with Afib."

Afib is a leading risk factor for stroke, making a person five times more likely to have a stroke. About 15 percent of all people who have strokes have Afib as well. The survey revealed that while nearly half (45%) of Americans are aware that Afib may increase stroke risk, only 17% are aware that it increases risk five-fold. Stroke in patients with Afib results in worse outcomes than non–Afib-related stroke, including higher mortality, stroke recurrence and greater functional impairment and dependency.

Survey findings include:

  • While the majority (64%) of Americans know that Afib can cause a heart attack, fewer than half (45%) know it can cause a stroke and only 34% that it can cause blood clots.
  • Only half of Americans are aware of pounding, fluttering or racing sensations in the chest (51%) or heart palpitations (50%) as symptoms of Afib.
  • Only 21% are aware Afib may have no symptoms.
  • Fewer than 1 in 5 are aware that sleep apnea (16%) and diabetes (14%) are risk factors for Afib.
  • Forty-four percent are aware that they can take doctor-prescribed medication to restore the heart’s normal rhythm; 32% are aware that it is possible to take doctor-prescribed medication to prevent blood clots; and 31% are aware that it is possible to take doctor-prescribed medication to slow down the rate of the heartbeat.

About National Stroke Association

National Stroke Association is the only national organization in the U.S. that focuses 100 percent of its efforts on stroke by developing compelling education and programs focused on prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and support for all impacted by stroke. Founded in 1984, the organization works every day to meet its mission to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke. Visit www.stroke.org to learn more.

About iRhythm Technologies, Inc.

iRhythm is a privately held digital health company that derives clinically valuable meaning from heart rhythm data to advance patient care in the management of cardiac arrhythmia information, a large and growing unmet clinical need. iRhythm develops and commercializes FDA-cleared solutions that integrate consumer-friendly biosensor technology, vast patient data, powerful analytics and medical expertise. For more information, please visit www.irhythmtech.com.

 

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National Stroke Association’s mission is to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke by developing compelling education and programs focused on prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and support for all impacted by stroke.