Policy Makers Join the Call for the Prevention of Atrial Fibrillation-Related Strokes to be Made a National Healthcare Priority in Asia Pacific Region

Brussels, Belgium October 24, 2012 Ahead of World Stroke Day 2012 (October 29), European and Malaysian Policy Makers have joined over 90 Medical and Patient Organisations, and more than 100,000 people, in supporting the Global Atrial Fibrillation (AF) Patient Charter and calling for National Governments and the World Health Organisation to act to make the prevention of AF-related strokes a priority. The Charter outlines ways to improve the diagnosis and management of AF which, if implemented, could stop thousands of preventable strokes from occurring each and every year.  

Why Action is Needed Now?

This is an epidemic already in progress in Asia. In China alone, up to eight million people suffer from AF — the most common sustained abnormal heart rhythm. This is very worrying because people with AF are five times more likely to experience a stroke than those without AF. Furthermore, these strokes are more severe than those that are unrelated to AF and therefore more costly in terms of impact on individuals and health and social services budgets.

“I think it is very important that National Ministries of Health pay attention to the Global AF Patient Charter,” said Member of the European Parliament’s Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee Dr Cristian Silviu Busoi. “The Charter recommendations could help governments achieve the aims of the European Heart Health Charter and the recently adopted United Nations target to reduce Non Communicable Disease mortality by 25% by the year 2025. This could limit the human trauma and substantial impact on health budgets caused by AF-related strokes.”

Stroke is a major cause of death and biggest single cause of disability worldwide. In the Asia-Pacific region in 2004, the approximate number of patients who had survived a stroke at some point in their lifetime was 4.4 million in Southeast Asia and 9.1 million in the Western Pacific region. In the same year, the number of first-ever strokes was 5.1 million across these regions. This was higher than the estimated number of new cases of cancer.  Strokes also cause a significant economic burden on national economies in Asia for example, China will lose $558 billion in national income due to the combined consequences of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

The personal impact for AF-related stroke survivors and their families cannot be underestimated with more than a third of survivors returning home with some level of permanent disability. AF also increases the risk of medical complications following a stroke with survivors suffering more frequently from conditions such as pneumonia and accumulation of fluid in the lungs. 

Strokes are Preventable: Prevent Them!

However, the majority of these strokes are preventable. Whilst there is no quick or easy solution, there are steps that can be taken to improve awareness, detection, diagnosis and management of AF to reduce the number of people whose lives are devastated every year.

“National governments should work together with Medical and Patient Organisations to make AF-related stroke prevention and care a national healthcare priority and put in place national stroke prevention plans,” said Member of the European Parliament’s Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee Edite Estrela. “We should all do our best to increase access to education, early diagnosis of AF and appropriate management to prevent AF-related strokes.”

A Worldwide Unified Voice

The Global AF Patient Charter is supported by over 90 Medical and Patient Organisations around the world. Its supporting campaign, Sign Against Stroke in Atrial Fibrillation, is calling for individuals around the world to sign their names on SignAgainstStroke.com to demonstrate their support for the Charter and ask National Governments to implement its recommendations to prevent AF-related strokes.

“The incidence of stroke across the Asia-Pacific region is continuing to grow and constitutes both a major public health issue which is why it is so important the Charter recommendations are implemented.”, said Dr. Sim Kui Hian, President Elect, Asia Pacific Society of Cardiology. “I welcome the support of Policy Makers in Malaysia and Europe in drawing attention to the need to prevent AF-related strokes and urge Policy Makers across Asia-Pacific  to do the same.”

About The Global AF Patient Charter and Sign Against Stroke Campaign 

The Global AF Patient Charter has been developed by a Steering Committee comprised of representatives from Patient Organisations, including AntiCoagulation Europe, Arrhythmia Alliance, Atrial Fibrillation Association, Irish Heart Foundation, StopAfib.org and Stroke Alliance for Europe, in collaboration with 39 founding Patient Organisations from 20 countries.  A full listing of collaborating organisations is available on the website, www.signagainststroke.com.

People can learn about AF and stroke, read and sign the Charter, which is available in 22 languages, and hear what policy makers have to say on the Campaign website, www.signagainststroke.com. All signatures contribute to driving action to prevent AF-related strokes and improving future outcomes and quality of life of people diagnosed with AF.

Bayer HealthCare is proud to support the Global AF Patient Charter and Sign Against Stroke Campaign.

Media Contacts

Melissa Gonzalez
Email: [email protected]
Tel: +1 (212) 453 2047