South Africa has joined the worldwide movement to educate the public on the symptoms and dangers of atrial fibrillation (AF), an under-diagnosed, under-treated and potentially life threatening condition.
AF causes the two upper chambers of the heart (the atria) to quiver instead of beating effectively, resulting in blood not being completely pumped out, which in turn causes pooling and can lead to clotting. These clots can travel to the brain and trigger a major and often fatal stroke. AF affects tens of millions of people around the world.
The Global AF Patient Charter, endorsed by 68 medical and patient organisations from 39 countries around the world, including South Africa, was launched earlier this year at the World Heart Federation's World Congress of Cardiology 2012.
"Too many lives are ruined because people don't discover that they have AF until after they have had a stroke," says Mellanie True Hills, founder and CEO of StopAfib.org
, an AF patient advocacy organisation.
"We must ensure that people are diagnosed earlier and treated promptly and effectively to manage AF and prevent strokes. We are asking people around the world to visit the website and sign the Charter to raise awareness of this potentially deadly and debilitating condition that destroys lives."
Bayer Healthcare, South Africa is also heeding the worldwide call to Sign Against Stroke and share valuable lifesaving information. "Knowledge is power and it is ultimately up to those of us who have the knowledge to share it throughout our country and across our borders," says Dr Naren Jairam, medical advisor, Bayer, South Africa.
"Atrial fibrillation has no geographic, gender or socioeconomic boundaries and approximately one in six strokes occur in patients with AF." Only once AF awareness is raised and people start realizing just how common and dangerous the condition is, will we be able to start reducing the number of strokes across the globe. The first step in the right direction however, is to visit the website now and make your mark."
A South African organization endorsing the Sign Against Stroke Campaign is PACE, the Heart Rhythm Support Group focused on creating awareness, providing support, assisting with research and screening for arrhythmias (heart rhythm disorders). "PACE is proud to be involved in such a significant and worthwhile campaign to raise awareness of AF-related stroke and to improve access to care and treatment for people with AF," says Francisca Rossouw, CEO of PACE. "We are supporting the Charter's recommendations and goal of the campaign which is to collect 1.7 million signatures, one for each person that is estimated to die or is disabled by an AF-related stroke on an annual basis.
The Charter offers strategies and solutions that could prevent millions of people from dying or becoming disabled from a stroke caused by AF. People are being encouraged to show their support by visiting the campaign website, www.signagainststroke.com
and signing the Charter.