A Multilayered Approach To Stroke Prevention In AF Patients

Dr. Stephen Fort, MD, MBChB, FRCSC, Cardiologist, explains how a multilayered approach to stroke prevention in AF patients can be effective.

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Dr. Stephen Fort, MD, MBChB, FRCSC, Cardiologist, explains how a multilayered approach to stroke prevention in AF patients can be effective.
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Video transcript

Featuring Dr. Stephen Fort, MD, MBChB, FRCSC, Cardiologist

Duration: 2 minutes, 49 seconds

Stroke is a devastating disease, we would obviously like to prevent it. And one of the risk factors is atrial fibrillation. Normal people have a regular heartbeat, that’s called sinus rhythm. When patients have atrial fibrillation, the heartbeat is irregular and often fast.

And small clots can form inside the heart, break off, travel to the brain, and cause a stroke. Now it’s important to note, that whether you have symptoms or not from your atrial fibrillation, or whether you’re permanently in atrial fibrillation, or it occurs intermittently – once a day, once a week, once a month.

Irrespective of the form of atrial fibrillation you have, or whether or not you have any symptoms of your atrial fibrillation, you’re still at a three to five percent increase per year of having a stroke due to a blood clot. Therefore, all these patients still need to take oral anticoagulants.

Patients at a high risk of stroke from atrial fibrillation are strongly recommended to take an oral anticoagulant. And our preference is one of the newer oral anticoagulants, rather than Warfarin. Not only is it more convenient, less blood tests, possibly safer with less strokes, but also on the whole safer.

Now, all anticoagulants can cause bleeding. But the risk of severe bleeding, such as a bleed into the brain, are significantly less on the newer oral anticoagulants, than the old standard of Warfarin therapy.

Obviously for any disease, not just stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation, the patient, individual, has to take the medication for it to be effective. Sometimes this is once a day, sometimes this can be twice a day. Compliance with the right therapy is obviously the key to treating or preventing strokes in patients with atrial fibrillation.

To prevent a stroke, most patients with atrial fibrillation, especially those at high risk, need to take oral anticoagulants. But the treatment doesn’t stop there. Controlling their blood pressure is very important. Cessation of smoking, very important. And it’s also very, very important the patient exercises on a regular basis and looks after themself more generally.

If you have any further questions about atrial fibrillation, the therapy required, or the risk of stroke, then you should speak to your general practitioner or your cardiologist.

Presenter: Dr. Stephen Fort, Cardiologist, Kelowna, BC

Local Practitioners: Cardiologist

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.