Alliance for Aging Research Commits to Celebrating a Year Without a Stroke

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Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month campaign highlights the risks associated with AFib and encourages doctors and patients to take steps toward preventing strokes.

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In recognition of Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) Awareness Month, the nonprofit Alliance for Aging Research (Alliance) has launched an educational campaign highlighting the dangers of AFib-related strokes. The initiative, titled Celebrating a Year Without a Stroke, underscores the seriousness of AFib-related strokes and encourages patients to understand their risk, ask questions, and continue taking medication as prescribed.

The initiative grew out of a symposium the Alliance convened involving federal agencies, patient advocacy groups, and medical professional societies to discuss the factors leading to under-treatment of older AFib patients and to identify gaps in current clinical practice, outreach, education, research, and policy. A common theme at the symposium was the need for educational efforts to focus on the importance of a non-event.

“An AFib-related stroke is a life-changing, and often deadly, event,” says Susan Peschin, MHS, Alliance president and CEO. “Getting proper treatment and sticking to that treatment are both key to successful stroke prevention. Our Celebrating a Year Without a Stroke campaign was created to educate and inspire AFib patients and their family caregivers to take a proactive role in their health so that they can be around for the moments in life that matter most.”

Strokes can be disabling and deadly, and AFib not only increases stroke risk by five-fold, but also doubles the risk that a stroke will result in permanent disability. While oral anticoagulation (OAC) is highly effective at reducing stroke risk, elderly patients are often under-anticoagulated. This is due to factors such as under-appreciation of the stroke risk associated with AFib, the tendency of some health care professionals and patients to prioritize bleeding risk over stroke prophylaxis, concern over falls and bleeding risk, and growing competency with new treatments. For those who are prescribed an anticoagulant, adherence is a significant concern. Patients generally do not feel any different while taking an OAC and may decide to stop taking it, which can have serious consequences.

The centerpiece of the campaign is the video stories of an AFib-related stroke survivor and her husband, an AFib advocate, and a cardiologist with decades of experience treating AFib patients. They shared their stories in order to underscore the seriousness of AFib-related strokes and to encourage patients to understand their own risk.

The campaign website, http://www.YearWithoutaStroke.org, contains videos, posters, and resources for health care professionals as well as AFib patients and their family caregivers so that all involved can learn, share, and truly understand the critical importance of stroke prevention.

Celebrating a Year Without a Stroke celebrates the stroke that doesn’t happen. “A year without a stroke is a year you can enjoy doing all the things that you worked all of your life to finally get to do,” shares cardiologist Dr. F. Roosevelt Gilliam III in his video. “It’s a year with more time for grandchildren, for long-awaited vacations, and for time spent at home disability free."

The Alliance has partnered with nine leading cardiovascular organizations who are committed to the messages and goal of the campaign, and who are helping to spread the word.

This campaign was created with support from Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

About the Alliance for Aging Research

The Alliance for Aging Research is the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the pace of scientific discoveries and their application in order to vastly improve the universal human experience of aging and health. The Alliance was founded in 1986 in Washington, D.C., and has since become a valued advocacy organization and a respected influential voice with policymakers. Visit http://www.agingresearch.org for more information.

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Noel Lloyd
@Aging_Research
since: 09/2011
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