StopAfib.org recently announced the results of a national online survey conducted by The Harris Poll of more than 400 people (aged 45 and older) living with Afib.
Five million Americans have Afib – the most common heart rhythm disorder – and for them, living with the condition and the increased risk of stroke has both a physical and an emotional impact.1 According to the survey, more than half of people living with Afib (56 percent) report that they are constantly worried that if they have a stroke they will be a burden on their families; 71 percent say that when thinking about managing their Afib, reducing their risk of stroke is most important.
People with Afib have a five times greater risk of stroke, yet oral anticoagulants – the most commonly prescribed treatment to reduce that risk – can lead to serious complications, such as bleeding.1 Despite concerns, 41 percent of people with Afib say they rarely or never discuss the risks of oral anticoagulants with their healthcare provider, and 40 percent wish their physician talked with them more about it. These findings demonstrate the need for more physician and patient conversation about all the available options to reduce stroke risk associated with Afib in order to determine the best approach for each individual.
While 95 percent of those taking oral anticoagulants believe that the benefits of using the treatment outweigh the risks, almost as many (81 percent) wish that there was a treatment as effective at reducing their risk of stroke that did not have such risks. And, 38 percent of those taking oral anticoagulants feel trapped between their fear of having a stroke and their fear of the risks associated with oral anticoagulants.
“The survey results reinforce that being diagnosed with Afib can be life-changing, particularly knowing that it significantly increases the risk of stroke,” said Mellanie True Hills, founder and chief executive officer of StopAfib.org. “The good news is that there are highly-effective options for reducing that risk. My advice for those with Afib is to work with your healthcare providers to identify options that fit your needs and lifestyle.”
If someone has a history of major (serious) bleeding while taking blood thinners, has a lifestyle, occupation or condition that puts them at risk for bleeding, or takes warfarin and has trouble staying within the recommended blood clotting range, device alternatives may be an option. However, according to the survey, 85 percent of people with Afib are unaware of device alternatives available to reduce their risk of stroke.
“One of my highest priorities is to ensure that my patients understand every treatment option available to them, as well as any associated risks,” said Dr. Christopher R. Ellis, MD, FACC, FHRS, of Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “What’s right for one person with Afib might not be right for another – and it takes a two-way dialogue between physicians and patients to determine the optimal treatment plan to help reduce the risk of a stroke.”