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Under-Treated Heart Condition that Causes a 500 Percent Increase in the Risk of Stroke Unites Medical and Patient Communities

April 18, 2012, 16:00 UTC+3

Global Patient Charter Ignites Action to Address Preventable Strokes Caused by Atrial Fibrillation

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DUBAI, April 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- World Heart Federation, World Congress of Cardiology Scientific Sessions 2012 – April 18, 2012  - The Global Atrial Fibrillation Patient Charter, endorsed by 68 medical and patient organisations from 39 countries, was launched today at the World Heart Federation's World Congress of Cardiology Scientific Sessions 2012. In an unprecedented worldwide call to action, the Patient Charter and supporting Sign Against Stroke in Atrial Fibrillation campaign address this under-recognised but growing cardiovascular public health emergency. The Charter offers strategies and solutions that could prevent millions of people from dying or becoming disabled from a stroke caused by atrial fibrillation (AF), an under-diagnosed, under-treated and potentially life threatening condition.

Affecting more than six million people in Europe alone, AF is an abnormal heart rhythm and a major risk factor for stroke – a potentially disabling or deadly event. AF causes the two upper chambers of the heart (the atria) to quiver instead of beating effectively, resulting in blood not being completely pumped out, which in turn causes pooling and can lead to clotting. These clots can travel to the brain and trigger a major and often fatal stroke.

In a global call to action, 68 patient organisations and medical societies from around the world are asking the general public, healthcare professionals and policy makers to work with them to drive action that will prevent serious and devastating AF-related strokes. People are being encouraged to show their support by visiting the campaign website,, and signing the Charter.

"Too many lives are ruined because people don't discover that they have AF until after they have had a stroke," said Mellanie True Hills, Founder and CEO of, an AF patient advocacy organisation. "We must ensure that people are diagnosed earlier and treated promptly and effectively to manage AF and prevent strokes. We are asking people around the world to visit the website and sign the Charter to raise awareness of this potentially deadly and debilitating condition that destroys lives."

Atrial fibrillation has no geographic, gender or socio-economic boundaries and is responsible for approximately 20 percent of all strokes caused by blood clots.

Patient Charter Underscores Need for Immediate Action

"Every 12 seconds someone in the world will suffer from an AF-related stroke," said Trudie Lobban MBE, Founder and Trustee, Arrhythmia Alliance, and Co-Founder and CEO, Atrial Fibrillation Association. "However, unlike high blood pressure or diabetes, many people have never heard of atrial fibrillation. This is a condition that increases our risk of stroke by 500 percent and yet, with early diagnosis and appropriate anticoagulation, the majority of AF-related strokes can be prevented."

Crucially, AF-related strokes are more serious than those resulting from other causes. This means that people who do suffer an AF-related stroke are less likely to be able to return to their own homes and will need more care from their families or nursing homes. However, with more attention to education, diagnosis and treatment, the impact of these strokes on individuals themselves, the health system and society can be reduced.

AF-Related Strokes are Preventable...So Let's Prevent Them

The Charter's supporting campaign, Sign Against Stroke in Atrial Fibrillation, aims to gather signatures from around the world in support of the Global AF Patient Charter and its "five critical recommendations":

  1. Implement public information and education campaigns to raise awareness of the early signs of AF, the risk factors of stroke and the importance of pulse checks
  2. Make AF-related stroke prevention and care a national healthcare priority
  3. Implement widely accepted clinical guidelines on the treatment of AF and AF-related stroke at a national level
  4. Enhance medical education and best practices in the healthcare workforce to improve prevention, detection and management of AF and AF-related stroke
  5. Ensure technologies that improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment of people with AF or at risk of AF-related stroke are made appropriately available at the earliest opportunity

"Bayer HealthCare is proud to be supporting this campaign," commented Dr. Flemming Ornskov, Head of General Medicine, Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals. "Improving patient outcomes is of utmost importance. However, it will require everybody to work together, patients, healthcare professionals, policy makers, non-governmental organisations and industry. None of us can achieve this alone."


About The Global AF Patient Charter and Sign Against Stroke Campaign

The Global AF Patient Charter has been developed by a Steering Committee of organisations, including AntiCoagulation Europe, Arrhythmia Alliance, Atrial Fibrillation Association, Irish Heart Foundation, and Stroke Alliance for Europe, in collaboration with 39 patient organisations from 20 countries.

The Global AF Patient Charter has been designed to bring a worldwide, unified voice to improving the treatment and care of individuals living with AF, and those at risk of AF-related stroke. It contains recommendations about critical actions that policy makers, healthcare providers, payers and national governments can take to save lives, reduce the burden of disease and the huge associated medical costs. 

The Sign Against Stroke campaign aims to raise awareness of AF and the need to prevent AF-related stroke by encouraging all relevant stakeholders, including the general public, to visit,, and show their support by signing the Global AF Patient Charter.

The goal of Sign Against Stroke is to gather 1.7 million signatures in support of the Charter – one for each of the estimated number of grandparents, mothers, fathers, aunts and uncles killed or disabled by AF strokes every year. 

Bayer HealthCare supports the Global AF Patient Charter and Sign Against Stroke campaign.



Sign Against Stroke


Melissa Gonzalez,

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