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Coinciding with the World Health Organization (WHO) European Ministerial Conference on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases in Turkmenistan, MEPs, patient and physician representatives are today (December 3rd) meeting at the European Parliament to highlight that urgent national action is required to prevent stroke.
"Stroke is a growing burden on our healthcare services but more importantly has a devastating impact on survivors and their families," said MEP Nessa Childers. "Atrial fibrillation is not a well recognised risk factor for stroke and yet it causes some of the most debilitating and costly strokes. This is why it is so important that stroke prevention and the risk factors for stroke are strongly addressed in EU and national health plans."
15 million people worldwide suffer a stroke each year[i], leaving 5 million people disabled. In Europe alone, the annual cost of stroke is estimated to be 64 billion Euros[ii]. Atrial fibrillation (AF), a condition characterised by an irregular heartbeat, is a major contributor to this.
AF increases stroke risk by 500%.[iii] People who have a stroke caused by AF are more likely to remain in hospital for longer, less likely to be discharged to their home and 50% more likely to remain disabled, relying on long-term care from their families or nursing homes[iv], yet the majority of AF-related strokes are preventable.
"Given the debilitating and costly nature of atrial fibrillation related strokes, it is vital that EU and national health policy addresses the gaps that allow patients to go undiagnosed and to receive sub-optimal management," said MEP Oreste Rossi.
By uniting, MEPs and advocates have shown their support for policies which deliver better recognition and management of AF and prevention of stroke.
"The Stroke Alliance For Europe, along with over a hundred other organisations around the world, is working to ensure that stroke prevention and atrial fibrillation are addressed in national health plans," said SAFE President, Jelka Jansa. "Over half a million people have already supported our cause and the Sign Against Stroke Campaign. Together we hope to ensure fewer families experience the life changing effects of a stroke."
People can learn about AF and stroke and support the Sign Against Stroke Campaign by visiting SignAgainstStroke.com. All signatures contribute to driving action to prevent AF-related strokes and putting stroke prevention on EU and national policy agendas.
Bayer HealthCare has proudly supported the Sign Against Stroke Campaign since its creation by 39 non-governmental organisations in 2011 and remains committed to working together with all key stakeholders involved to help improve AF-related stroke prevention.
[i] The Atlas of Heart Disease and Stroke. World Health Organisation. http://www.who.int/cardiovascular_diseases/en/cvd_atlas_15_burden_stroke.pdf Last accessed 28 October 2013.
[ii] Gustavsson A, Svensson M, Jacobi F et al. Cost of disorders of the brain in Europe 2010. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol 2011;21:718–7
[iii] Fuster V et al. 2011 ACCF/AHA/HRS focused updates incorporated into the ACC/AHA/ESC 2006 guidelines for the management of patients with atrial fibrillation: a report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on practice guidelines. Circulation 2011;123(10):e269-367.
[iv] Lin HJ et al. Stroke severity in atrial fibrillation.The Framingham Study. Stroke 1996;27(10):1760-4.
Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release. Click 'references' tab above for source.
Visit our Stroke category page for the latest news on this subject.
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