The UK remains at risk of a devastating stroke crisis, according to UK health experts launching Reports published today, on World Stroke Day, by Action for Stroke Prevention (ASP), an alliance of renowned health experts and patient organisations. One of the Reports entitled, How Can We Avoid a Stroke Crisis in Europe?, highlights that the first time many people will find out they have AF is when they suffer a stroke. The major Reports call for policy makers and the medical and patient communities to collectively act to prevent strokes that strike thousands of people with atrial fibrillation (AF) each year.
“Reducing AF-related stroke will be a key component in the UK in reaching the United Nations commitment to reduce non-communicable diseases by 25% by the year 2025. We hope the UK government and Department of Health will give all initiatives that address this crisis their full backing.”
Furthermore, approximately 70% of patients with known AF who had a stroke caused by an AF-related blood clot were not receiving essential anticoagulant therapy at the time. With stretched healthcare budgets and the annual cost of stroke in Europe approximately €64 billion, more needs to be done to reduce the number of these life-destroying, costly, and yet preventable strokes.
In addition to their main Report, ASP has launched two supplementary Reports. These outline concrete action steps that can be taken at a community level to reduce the personal and economic impact of AF-related stroke.
Reducing a Preventable Burden: Effecting Change
"We need to ensure that AF is recognised as a serious risk factor for stroke in national prevention plans and that action encourages earlier diagnosis and improved awareness and prevention," said world-renowned Cardiology expert, John Camm, Professor of Clinical Cardiology at St George's University, London, UK. "Reducing AF-related stroke will be a key component in the UK in reaching the United Nations commitment to reduce non-communicable diseases by 25% by the year 2025. We hope the UK government and Department of Health will give all initiatives that address this crisis their full backing."
The critical challenge is for key parties - healthcare professionals, policy-makers, medical societies, patient advocacy groups and industry alike - to work together to reduce the burden of AF-related stroke.
Recommendations made by the Reports include:
improving public awareness and understanding of AF and the risk of AF-related stroke
implementing effective practice standards and targets for healthcare professionals; for example, targets for AF screening
facilitating the exchange of best practice between Member States
developing strategies to support adherence to clinical guidelines and the provision of equal and adequate administration of therapy for people with AF
Cecilia Wikström, Member of European Parliament (MEP) and a co-author of the Report's foreword commented, "I support the recommendations made by Action for Stroke Prevention and believe it is important that they are addressed in stroke, cardiovascular and non-communicable disease strategies. Their implementation will contribute to the prevention of stroke in people with AF and, in turn, reduce the dramatically increasing clinical, economic and social burden of stroke in Europe. It is important that governments and healthcare policy makers take action to ensure that diagnosis and appropriate treatment are available to all European citizens."