Half of Arrhythmia Patients Unaware of Stroke Risk

Atrial fibrillation patients unaware or deny added stroke risk

(RxWiki News) For patients with atrial fibrillation, a common heart arrhythmia, the most serious risk is their heightened susceptibility to stroke. But half of patients are unaware of the risk or choose to ignore it.

A recent American Heart Association study revealed that only 8 percent of atrial fibrillation patients believe that stroke is their greatest health concern.

"Atrial fibrillation is a huge stroke risk! If affected, seek proper treatment."

Dr. Mark Estes III, a professor of medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine, said that helping patients better understand the risks can impact treatment and prevention of atrial fibrillation-related strokes. He noted that the goal of the American Heart Association study was to bridge the knowledge gap through research and education.

More than 2.7 million Americans suffer from atrial fibrillation, while stroke is considered the No. 3 killer, behind only heart disease and cancer.

Researchers surveyed 502 adult atrial fibrillation patients, finding that only half thought they were at risk for a stroke. Of the remainder, 25 percent said they were not at risk and the other 25 percent did not know.

Only two-thirds of the patients could recall their physician warning them about their elevated stroke risk. Of the 66 percent of patients who talked to their doctors, 21 percent said they were told they were not at risk for a stroke.

Dr. Estes said that patients need to be aware of the risks and have conversations with their doctors about steps they can take to prevent a stroke.

The survey has not been published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

Review Date: 
September 22, 2011