A new survey of more than 1,200 physicians, patients with atrial fibrillation (AFib) and their caregivers uncovered important information gaps regarding the impact of AFib-related stroke, including communication barriers, challenges with patient education, misperceptions about treatment compliance, and outcomes related to the impact of stroke on one’s life. The survey was issued by the Heart Rhythm Society (HRS) and National Stroke Association in collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim (BI), and the findings were presented today during a special session at the American Heart Association’s annual Scientific Sessions in Chicago.
The survey found that the vast majority of physicians surveyed (90 percent) believe AFib patients underestimate the impact of AFib-related stroke on their daily lives, while four in five (79 percent) believe AFib patients are in denial about their risk of experiencing an ischemic stroke. Of equal concern, two-thirds of patients surveyed responded that they were not previously aware that AFib-related strokes are nearly twice as likely to be fatal and 32 percent of surveyed AFib patients who have not experienced a stroke do not believe they would be able to describe the most common symptoms of stroke. Further, the majority of stroke survivors surveyed (61 percent) did not know they had AFib prior to experiencing a stroke.
AFib is the most common arrhythmia, affecting more than 2.7 million Americans, and makes AFib patients five times more likely to have a stroke than people without AFib[i]. AFib-related strokes are nearly twice as likely to be fatal[ii] or severely disabling as non-AFib-related strokes[iii].
“The survey results clearly demonstrate room for improvement when it comes to doctor-patient conversations about AFib and stroke. We hope our study will not only help raise awareness about the increased risk and severity of AFib-related stroke, but also encourage smart, open conversations,” said David Frankel, MD, FHRS, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Hospital of University of Pennsylvania and chair of the HRS AF-Impact of Stroke Survey Working Group. “With AFib projected to affect upwards of 15 million Americans by 2050, now is the time to break down these barriers and work towards a common understanding between patients and doctors in order to improve quality of care and, ultimately, prevent stroke.”
Understanding the Devastating Impact of AFib-related Stroke
The survey reinforced that AFib-related stroke has a major impact on the lives of both patients and caregivers. Nearly three in four stroke survivors (73 percent) surveyed say that experiencing a stroke was worse than they could have imagined, and many survivors and caregivers have had to give up jobs, activities or hobbies that brought them joy. Virtually all surveyed physicians (97 percent) agree that AFib-related ischemic stroke can have devastating outcomes for patients and caregivers.
[i] January CT, Wann LS, Alpert JS, Field ME, Calkins H, Murray KT, Cleveland Jr JC, Sacco RL, Cigarroa JE, Stevenson WG, Conti JB, Tchou PJ, Ellinor PT, Tracy CM,Ezekowitz MD, Yancy CW, 2014 AHA/ACC/HRS Guideline for the Management of Patients With Atrial Fibrillation: Executive Summary, Journal of the American College of Cardiology (2014), doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2014.03.021.
[ii] Lin HJ, et al. “Stroke Prevention in Atrial Fibrillation: The Framingham Study.” Stroke. 1996; 27:1760-1764
[iii] Dulli D., et al. “Atrial Fibrillation is Associated with Severe Ischemic Stroke.” Neuroepidemiology. 2003; 22: 118-123.
Source: Boehringer Ingelheim