Worldwide effort aims to raise awareness of atrial fibrillation

iStock Heartbeat for WEB Worldwide effort aims to raise awareness of atrial fibrillationMedical and patient organizations from 39 countries around the world are teaming up to educate the public about atrial fibrillation (AF), an under-diagnosed, under-treated and potentially life threatening condition that affects tens of millions of people worldwide.

In patients with AF, the upper chambers of the heart, known as the atria, quiver instead of beat effectively. Blood does not get pumped completely out of the heart chambers, and can pool and clot. If these blood clots travel to the brain they can trigger a major and often deadly stroke.

The Global AF Patient Charter, organized earlier this year at the World Heart Federation’s World Congress of Cardiology, is working to raise awareness of AF so that people realize just how common and dangerous it is. The Charter has launched a website,, and aims to collect 1.7 million signatures – one for each person that is estimated to die or become disabled by an AF-related stroke annually.

One main goal in treating people with AF is to prevent strokes. Most patients with AF are prescribed anticoagulants to help thin the blood. Warfarin was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) more than 50 years ago to prevent strokes in AF patients. Warfarin has a good track record of treating AF patients, but because since it has several food and drug interactions and can cause serious internal bleeds, patients on warfarin must be monitored on a regular basis.

In 2010, the FDA approved Pradaxa, the first blood thinner alternative to warfarin for patients with AF. The drug was heralded as a safer option with fewer interactions. But a year after the drug was approved, the FDA reported that it received more reports of death and bleeding from Pradaxa than all other prescription drugs.

Source: Biz Community