Sign Against Stroke is an international initiative created by the Global Atrial Fibrillation Patient Charter to outline ways to improve the diagnosis and management of atrial fibrillation (AF) which, if implemented, could stop thousands of preventable strokes from occurring each and every year.
As part of the Sign Against Stroke campaign in Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa Medical City will set up examination booths at Abu Dhabi Mall and Marina Mall respectively to educate the public about the importance of regular screenings for atrial fibrillation and the significance of a healthy lifestyle.
Sheikh Khalifa Medical City doctors and volunteers will be present at the examination booth to offer individual consultations following multiple checkups that will be done under the supervision of a highly qualified team of nurses. Checkups will include Blood Pressure Monitoring, Blood sugar tests, BMI (Body Mass Index) and Cholesterol tests.
Why Action is Needed Now?In AF, the upper chambers (atria) of the heart contract irregularly. As a result, the atria do not empty completely and blood does not flow properly, potentially allowing blood clots to form. These blood clots can break loose and travel to the brain, resulting in a stroke.
AF is the most common sustained cardiac rhythm disorder in the world. AF is a strong independent risk factor for stroke and accounts for approximately 1 in 5 ischaemic strokes. Patients with AF are five times more likely to have a stroke compared with the general population and patients with AF who have multiple co-morbidities have a greater risk of stroke.
In Europe alone ten million people are affected by AF and the number of Europeans affected is expected to rise to 25 to 30 million by 2050. Approximately 2.5% of the US population is also affected by AF. It is estimated that nearly one in four people at age 55 years will go on to develop AF.
This is very worrying not only because of the suffering it causes amongst patients but also because of the economic implications. For instance, the financial burden placed on European countries by stroke is huge. In 2010, the estimated cost of stroke in Europe was €64 billion. Assuming that 15% of these strokes were caused by AF and that they are generally more severe, the cost of AF-related stroke could be at least €10bn in 2010 alone.
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.
"It is very important to create greater awareness about strokes related to atrial fibrillation in the UAE. The individual and social impact of Atrial Fibrillation can be devastating if not diagnosed on time. At Sheikh Khalifa Medical City we believe in prevention prior to treatment and we are very pleased to be partners with the Sign Against Stroke campaign in Abu Dhabi", said Dr. Wael Al Mahmeed, Chief of Cardiology, Sheikh Khalifa Medical City.