More A-Fib patients know stroke is a risk

Sept. 8, 2012 at 12:37 AM
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BOSTON, Sept. 8 (UPI) -- Heart patients with atrial fibrillation -- irregular heartbeat -- are better informed about the link between their condition and stroke, U.S. researchers say.

Patrick Ellinor, associate professor at Harvard Medical School and Cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, said atrial fibrillation affects about 2.7 million Americans, putting them at higher risk of other cardiovascular conditions, including stroke.

In 2011, more than 500 patients with atrial fibrillation were surveyed and half of them were unaware of their heightened risk of stroke.

However, one year later, another poll targeting 500 atrial fibrillation patients was conducted and their knowledge of the five-fold risk of potentially suffering a stroke had improved to 64 percent, highlighting the rise in patient education and overall understanding of atrial fibrillation.

"The fact that 64 percent of A-Fib patients are aware that they have a five times greater risk of having a stroke is a great step in the right direction," Ellinor said in a statement. "The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association works to provide healthcare providers, patients and caregivers the educational tools and resources they need on this very important topic. We hope to report a higher percentage annually until we reach 100 percent."

The survey also found 82 percent of A-Fib patients said they believe having atrial fibrillation increases their risk for stroke, an increase from 75 percent in 2011, Ellinor said.

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