New Survey Reveals People with Atrial Fibrillation Prioritize Stroke Risk Reduction, Seek More Education on Treatment Options

September 20, 2018

  • Summary: New Survey Reveals People with Atrial Fibrillation Prioritize Stroke Risk Reduction, Seek More Education on Treatment Options 
  • Reading time: 3–4 minutes. 

DALLAS, Sept. 20, 2018 – In celebration of National Atrial Fibrillation (Afib) Awareness Month, patient advocacy organization today announced the results of a national online survey conducted by The Harris Poll of more than 400 people (aged 45 and older) living with Afib. Five million Americans have Afib – the most common heart rhythm disorder – and for them, living with the condition and the increased risk of stroke has both a physical and an emotional impact.1 According to the survey, more than half of people living with Afib (56 percent) report that they are constantly worried that if they have a stroke they will be a burden on their families; 71 percent say that when thinking about managing their Afib, reducing their risk of stroke is most important. 

People with Afib have a five times greater risk of stroke, yet oral anticoagulants – the most commonly prescribed treatment to reduce that risk – can lead to serious complications, such as bleeding.1 Despite concerns, 41 percent of people with Afib say they rarely or never discuss the risks of oral anticoagulants with their healthcare provider, and 40 percent wish their physician talked with them more about it. These findings demonstrate the need for more physician and patient conversation about all the available options to reduce stroke risk associated with Afib in order to determine the best approach for each individual.

While 95 percent of those taking oral anticoagulants believe that the benefits of using the treatment outweigh the risks, almost as many (81 percent) wish that there was a treatment as effective at reducing their risk of stroke that did not have such risks. And, 38 percent of those taking oral anticoagulants feel trapped between their fear of having a stroke and their fear of the risks associated with oral anticoagulants.

“The survey results reinforce that being diagnosed with Afib can be life-changing, particularly knowing that it significantly increases the risk of stroke,” said Mellanie True Hills, founder and chief executive officer of “The good news is that there are highly-effective options for reducing that risk. My advice for those with Afib is to work with your healthcare providers to identify options that fit your needs and lifestyle.”

If someone has a history of major (serious) bleeding while taking blood thinners, has a lifestyle, occupation or condition that puts them at risk for bleeding, or takes warfarin and has trouble staying within the recommended blood clotting range, device alternatives may be an option. However, according to the survey, 85 percent of people with Afib are unaware of device alternatives available to reduce their risk of stroke.

“One of my highest priorities is to ensure that my patients understand every treatment option available to them, as well as any associated risks,” said Dr. Christopher R. Ellis, MD, FACC, FHRS, of Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “What’s right for one person with Afib might not be right for another – and it takes a two-way dialogue between physicians and patients to determine the optimal treatment plan to help reduce the risk of a stroke.”

The survey is part of the Watch Us Now initiative, which aims to empower people living with Afib to learn about treatment options to help reduce the risk of a stroke. People with Afib and their loved ones can visit to learn more and to view the results from the survey.

About the Survey

The research was conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of and Boston Scientific Corporation, which funded the survey, among patients with atrial fibrillation within the US. The survey was conducted July 2 – July 20, 2018 among 436 patients aged 45+ who have ever been diagnosed by a healthcare provider with atrial fibrillation. Figures for age by sex, income, employment status, marital status, race/ethnicity, education and size of household were weighted where necessary within each region to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

About is by patients for patients, having been founded in 2007 by Mellanie True Hills, an atrial fibrillation patient who was now afib free. Her mission was to give those living with afib their lives back and to rid the world of afib strokes by raising awareness of afib. Successes include creating Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month and lobbying with other organizations to gain U.S. Senate designation of September as National Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month.

The site provides information about atrial fibrillation symptoms, causes, risks, treatments, resources, and the latest afib news and videos. It is the most visited arrhythmia site and has received HON Code Certification from the Health on the Net Foundation, signifying a credible, trustworthy medical web site. To learn more, visit

Contact information

For more information, visit or contact Mellanie True Hills at 940-466-9898 or

1 “Atrial Fibrillation Fact Sheet.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.