Press Kit for Living with AFib Campaign

Welcome to the Living with AFib press kit. Here you will find all you need on the campaign and the AFib survey results.

 Campaign in Brief

The Living with AFib multimedia campaign educates consumers at risk for and diagnosed with atrial fibrillation on causes, symptoms, and the need for treatment. It provides these useful tools to cardiologists and other health care professionals. The campaign can be followed on social media using hashtag #LivingwithAFib.

 Press Release

For immediate release

February 24, 2015
Noel Lloyd
[email protected]
202.370.7852

Survey Reveals How AFib Patients Age 65+ View Risks, Diagnosis, and Treatment
Results Show Patient Concern about Stroke Risk Has Risen Over Time  

Washington, D.C., February 24, 2015 – A survey of more than 500 patients ages 65 and over with atrial fibrillation (AFib) reveals significant insights about the condition's impact on older adults. The disease is the most common type of arrhythmia, or irregular heart rhythm, that can lead to stroke and heart-related conditions. It affects more than five million Americans and becomes increasingly common with age.

A primary finding of the survey, which was released by the nonprofit Alliance for Aging Research, was concerning usage of anticoagulant medications to reduce their risk of stroke. Sixty percent of patients said they currently use anticoagulant medications. Of those who did not report taking them, the primary reason was concern over complications or side effects, including 38 percent who believed it could cause internal bleeding.

Respondents were largely more concerned about the risk of stroke if they do not take medications (42 percent) than the risk of bleeding if they did (9 percent). The concern about the risk of stroke has grown since a 2012 survey in which 34 percent reported worries about stroke risk. Overall, 13 percent of respondents said they are very or extremely worried about having a stroke versus 11 percent in the 2012 survey.

The survey also reveals insights on first diagnosis of AFib. It found that 50 percent of respondents first learned of their AFib after going to the ER (33 percent) or health care professional (17 percent) because they felt symptoms. However, 45 percent of respondents did not experience symptoms significant enough to report. They instead were diagnosed at a regular office visit or when they went to a medical appointment for something else.

The survey finds that respondents valued self-education about the disease, with 62 percent doing research on their own. Of that number, 79 percent searched online for information.

For a complete overview of the survey, please go here.

“Atrial fibrillation is not often talked about beyond the commercials we all see on TV. Yet, one in 25 Americans age 60 and over has AFib, and those diagnosed with it are five times more likely to have a stroke,” says Lindsay Clarke, vice president of health programs for the Alliance. “Our survey shows that the majority of seniors living with AFib did their own research after diagnosis or during treatment. This means that there needs to be quality information available. In honor of American Heart Month, we launched our Living with AFib educational campaign. We ask others to help us spread the word about it. Because if we can effectively educate seniors with AFib about the disease, we can help prevent stroke—and that’s something we can all celebrate.”

The Alliance’s Living with AFib campaign has free resources that give a comprehensive overview of the disease. It includes:

  • Two animated “pocket films:” Living with Atrial Fibrillation, which offers a synopsis of the disease, and Preventing Stroke from Atrial Fibrillation, a guide on how patients can balance stroke risk and the risk of complications for anticoagulation. Both are produced in a compelling, animated format that makes them accessible and shareable. Spanish versions of the films are also available.
  • brochure that gives everything a person needs to know about AFib in a more traditional format.
  • An online quiz that tests AFib knowledge.

All of these resources can be found here. The Alliance is also posting information on Twitter at @aging_research using hashtag #LivingwithAFib.

In addition, statistics on AFib and thrombosis are available here.  

For more information about the campaign, please contact Noel Lloyd, communications manager, at 202.370.7852 or through email.

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 www.agingresearch.org for more information.

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 Atrial Fibrillation Defined

During normal activity, the heart pumps blood through the body using four chambers that contract and relax in a coordinated manner. This is controlled by an electrical system that signals the heart when to pump. When all is in working order, blood circulates to the vital organs such as the lungs, heart, and brain.

But with AFib, the electrical signals are abnormal and largely chaotic. This causes the heart to pump in an irregular and often rapid fashion. This can result in quivering, or fibrillation of the atria, one of the four chambers. When the heart beats very fast, this can overwork the ventricles, which are not able to pump enough blood to meet the body’s oxygen needs. This can eventually lead to heart failure in some patients. 

The irregular rhythm of the heart also causes the heart’s chambers to squeeze ineffectively—affecting the way blood flows to the heart and making it vulnerable for forming clots. If these clots leave the heart, they can travel to the brain where they can block vital blood flow—resulting in an ischemic (obstructive) stroke that can be debilitating and deadly.


 

 Facts and Figures

  • AFib affects an estimated five million Americans.
  • An estimated 75,000 new cases are discovered every year.
  • During AFib episodes, some patient’s hearts beat as many as 350 times per minute, as opposed to 60-100 in a normal heart.
  • AFib costs the U.S. more than $6.5 billion in health care expenses annually.
  • Those diagnosed with AFib are five times more likely to have a stroke.
  • The risk for AFib increases significantly after a person turns 60.
  • A hot-button topic with AFib is the use of anticoagulants to reduce risk of stroke and the balancing of real and perceived risks of severe bleeding caused by the medication.

Note:  For more facts on AFib, visit the Alliance’s Silver Book site.

 

 Survey Result Highlights

For the complete survey, go here.

Diagnosis: AFib patients have had varied experiences in terms of when they first learned of their conditions. Most said it was when they had symptoms that were bad enough to go to an emergency room (33 percent). However, large segments also said it was during a regular check-up (25 percent), when they went to a health care professional for something else (20 percent), or when they felt symptoms and scheduled an appointment to discuss them (17 percent).

After diagnosis, more AFib patients thought AFib was a major problem (48 percent) than those who thought it was a minor problem (31 percent); 18 percent had no idea. Only 3 percent thought AFib was not a problem at all.

Patient research: Of respondents 62 percent did research on their own after diagnosis or during treatment. Based on the latest survey, most of those who did their own research went to online search engines (79 percent) or medical websites such as WebMD (70 percent). Also, 48 percent went to a medical professional, 36 percent to a medical institution, 15 percent to government sources, 11 percent to family and friends, 10 percent to patient organizations, 8 percent to drug company sites, and 4 percent to traditional news media sources.

Anticoagulant medication use: Of respondents 79 percent said they have used anticoagulant medications; 60 percent said they are taking them now.

Stroke worry: In the survey, 13 percent of respondents said they are very or extremely worried about having a stroke. (In the 2012 survey, 11 percent said they were very or extremely worried.) Respondents are more concerned with the risk of stroke if they don’t take anticoagulant medications (42 percent) than they are with the risk of bleeding if they do (9 percent).

 Campaign Resources

 Contact Info

For more information about this campaign and for interviews with experts, please contact Noel Lloyd via email or 202.370.7852.