New research conducted among people with AF in Europe has found that one in four experienced symptoms for one year or longer before they were diagnosed with the condition. In AF, the heart beats in an abnormal rhythm and it is the most common type of heart rhythm disorder, yet around one in two had not heard of AF at time of diagnosis. Furthermore, while people with AF are five times more likely to have a stroke,1 the AFfect survey revealed that almost half of those diagnosed with the condition were unaware of the increased risk of stroke;2 highlighting the need for better information for patients. The research was commissioned by Daiichi Sankyo Europe GmbH and is being published to mark World Stroke Day 2016 on the 29th October.
AF has a major impact on the lives of those with the condition, with over two-thirds of respondents saying it had a negative impact on their physical and emotional wellbeing.2 This was especially likely to affect those taking the commonly prescribed vitamin K antagonist (VKA) treatment warfarin, with 62% of these patients saying their physical wellbeing was negatively affected.
Findings from the AFfect survey revealed that half of respondents had switched treatment, and around a third reported treatment efficacy and side effects as the reasons for switching.2 Nearly half of patients taking twice daily treatment said they would prefer to take fewer pills.2 10% of respondents with AF were not currently taking treatment for their condition, putting them at increased risk of stroke.
“AF is a genuine public health priority in Europe, and the problem is growing. We need to do more to give people a fast diagnosis, and help them to understand that they are at increased risk of a severe, potentially fatal, stroke,” said Trudie C. Lobban MBE, Founder & CEO of Atrial Fibrillation Association (AFA). “If people feel that their heart is beating in an unusual way they should seek urgent medical advice. There are a range of available treatments which can reduce the risk of stroke in people with AF, and it is vital that people get the support they need to protect themselves.”
Following recent treatment developments, the ESC Management of AF Guidelines recommend non-VKA oral anticoagulants, or NOACs in preference to Vitamin K antagonists to prevent stroke in AF patients (class 1A recommendation, based on the level of evidence), noting that the underuse of oral anticoagulants in AF patients remains an ongoing issue.3
Reporting on AF treatment, 62% of respondents said they were not presented with any treatment options at diagnosis, while 40% of respondents noted that they would like more information on AF treatments, and 32% said they want more information on stroke prevention. Over six million Europeans suffer from AF and this figure is expected to at least double over the next 50 years.1 As well as carrying an increased risk of stroke, AF also raises stroke severity.
The theme of this year’s World Stroke Day is Face the Facts: Stroke is Treatable, highlighting that a real difference can be made through better awareness, access, and action. Every six seconds someone somewhere will die of stroke.4 To find out more visit www.worldstrokecampaign.org.