Global Patient Charter Ignites Action to Address Preventable Strokes Caused by Atrial Fibrillation — Latin America Press Release

April 18, 2012

Dubai, United Arab Emirates — had the great privilege of participating in an important event, the launching of the Global Atrial Fibrillation Patient Charter and the Sign Against Stroke in Atrial Fibrillation campaign at the World Congress of Cardiology in Dubai. was one of several patient organizations that led the development of this independent patient charter. Below is one of the press releases distributed in conjunction with the launch press conference in Dubai.

Please take a moment to sign the charter at, and to ask family and friends to do so as well. Our goal is to gather 1.7 million signatures in support of the Charter, which signifies the estimated number of people killed or disabled worldwide by AF strokes every year. 

Press Release:

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

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

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 across the Latin-American region from dying or becoming disabled from a stroke caused by atrial fibrillation (AF), an under-diagnosed, under-treated and potentially life threatening condition.

An increasing number of people in Latin America are living with AF. In Brazil and Venezuela alone, almost two million people have been diagnosed with this abnormal heart rhythm and major risk factor for stroke. 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.

“Alarmingly, throughout Latin America, there is a clear unmet medical need for stroke prevention in AF patients,” said Dr. Jorge Gonzalez-Zuelgaray, Chief of Service of Arrhythmias and Electrophysiology (Sanatorio de la Trinidad San Isidro, Buenos Aires, Argentina); Director of Arrhythmia Center (University of Buenos Aires); President of Arrhythmia Alliance and Atrial Fibrillation Association in Argentina; Director, Career of Specialists in Electrophysiology (University of Buenos Aires).

“The majority of such strokes are preventable, but the under-diagnosis, as well as suboptimal use of anticoagulation, mean that an unnecessary and heavy burden is placed on patients, their families and carers. That is why we are asking people around the world to visit the website and sign the Charter.”

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

Stroke affects millions of people in the Latin American region. In 2004 alone, 437,000 people in Latin America suffered a first-ever stroke, and over a quarter of a million people died from a stroke.

“Despite being a common condition, AF is often under-diagnosed and, consequently, under-treated, resulting in inadequate stroke prevention,” commented Dr. Carlos Cantú, Professor of Stroke Program at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México; Chairman of the Department of Neurology, National Institute of Medical Sciences and Nutrition, Salvador Zubirán, Mexico; Founding Member of the Mexican Stroke Association. “In the Latin American region, there is a clear lack of information regarding the burden of AF, despite the fact AF can increase our risk of stroke by 500%. This needs to be urgently addressed.”

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 Strokein 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.

Media Contact

Melissa Gonzalez

Email: [email protected]

Tel: +1 (212) 453 2047