3 OUT OF 4 ATRIAL FIBRILLATION RELATED STROKES CAN BE PREVENTED IF YOU ARE ALREADY DIAGNOSED Ɨ.

What is Atrial Fibrillation?

Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is the most common heart rhythm disorder (arrhythmia). Many people with AF have no symptoms, and AF only appears intermittently in some people with AF, making it difficult to detect.  It is estimated that up to 30% of Australians with AF are undiagnosed Ɨ.

Why it is important to screen for AF?

Not all arrhythmias are the same. AF is responsible for 20% (1 in 5) of stroke cases. 3 out of 4 AF related strokes can be prevented if you are already diagnosed. Screening and early detection of AF enables your doctor to start an appropriate treatment to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, along with associated complications.

Stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation

Screening methods:

Wrist palpation - The pulse is usually felt just inside the wrist below the thumb by placing two or three fingers lightly upon the radial artery. It requires training to perform wrist palpation and has moderate diagnostic accuracy

ECG - is a medical test that detects cardiac abnormalities by measuring the electrical activity generated by the heart as it contracts. It requires extensive training for proper interpretation and analysis must be performed by a cardiac specialist.

Microlife Afib technology – It simultaneously measures blood pressure & detects Atrial Fibrillation. It doesn’t require any training.

Why is regular home screening also clinically valuable?

3 stages of AF

Paroxysmal (occasional)
Atrial fibrillation that lasts from a few seconds to days, then stops on its own.
Paroxysmal AF will only be detected when patient is actually in AF, whether by palpation, ECG or AFIB technology.
Therefore it can be missed if only being checked intermittently.
Regular home screening increases the chance of detection.
Persistent
Atrial fibrillation that does not stop by itself but will stop if medication or cardioversion is given to help the heart return to its normal rhythm.
Patients with a history of AF need to be aware of recurrence to initiate treatment.
Regular home screening can speed detection.
Permanent
Arial fibrillation is present all the time and cannot be fixed with medication or cardioversion.
AF is progressive, you may start out with paroxysmal AF and migrate to long standing persistent AF.



1.    National Stroke Association, Atrial fibrillation (Afib) and stroke. 2009. http://www.stroke.org/site/DocServer/NSAFactSheets_Afib_9-09.pdf?docID=4901
It is estimated that up to 30% of Australians with AF are undiagnosed2
2.    Kirschof, P. et. al., How can we avoid a stroke crisis? 2009. http://www.escardio.org/communities/EHRA/publications/papers-interest/Documents/ehra-stroke-report-recommend-document.pdf  

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