Stroke is the second most common cause of death worldwide, responsible for 6.7 million deaths each year. Of those who survive a stroke, 5 million are left disabled every year.
Strokes can be classified into two major categories: haemorrhagic stroke and ischaemic stroke. Haemorrhagic strokes are caused by the rupture of a blood vessel which leads to bleeding inside the brain. 85% of all strokes, however, are ischaemic strokes, caused by an interruption of blood supply to the brain due to a blockage e.g. a blood clot. When the blood cannot reach the brain, brain cells die due to lack of oxygen.
Stroke may result in severely restricted movement, paralysis, loss of speech or vision, which may be permanent, or even death.
Approximately 1 in 5 ischaemic strokes are caused by atrial fibrillation, which is the most common sustained cardiac rhythm disorder.
In AF, the upper chambers of the heart (known as the atria) 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 stroke. The number of people with AF is forecast to increase approximately 2.5-fold by 2050 due to the ageing of the population and improved survival following conditions that predispose to AF such as a heart attack. People with AF are 5 times more likely to suffer a stroke than people without AF. AF-related strokes are also associated with a 50% likelihood of death within one year.
Different medicines exist that inhibit clot formation in patients with AF in order to prevent stroke. Bayer offers such a product that may be of benefit for these patients. It is important for doctors and patients to discuss all available treatment options to ensure the patient receives the best medication for him / her.