AF is the most common sustained heart rhythm condition, with one in four adults over the age of 40 developing the condition in their lifetime.1 About one percent of the total population is affected by AF worldwide1,2, i.e. over 70 million people. AF is a disease of the ageing population and its prevalence increases with age.2
Atrial fibrillation is not directly life-threatening. However, the arrythmia can have serious consequences for patients, going beyond the limitations in physical capabilities.
People with AF are more likely to experience the development of a blood clot in the heart. This blood clot may break loose and can be washed into the brain, where it can cause a stroke. Patients with atrial fibrillation thus have a five-fold increased risk of stroke when compared to people without atrial fibrillation. Up to three million people worldwide suffer strokes related to AF each year.3-6 Strokes due to AF tend to be severe, with an increased likelihood of death and disability.7
Many AF-related strokes can be prevented with appropriate medicinal therapy. For this, substances are used which act on the blood clotting system and shall prevent blood clots from forming.
Pradaxa® (dabigatran etexilate)
Dabigatran etexilate, a direct thrombin inhibitor (DTI), is at the forefront of a new generation of oral blood thinning treatments, which prevent blood clots from forming in the body that can lead to devastating strokes in patients with atrial fibrillation. Potent antithrombotic effects are achieved with DTIs by specifically blocking the activity of thrombin (both free and clot-bound), the central enzyme in the process responsible for thrombus formation.
Dabigatran etexilate is approved for clinical use in stroke risk reduction in non-valvular atrial fibrillation prevention in more than 50 countries around the world, including the US, the EU countries, Canada and Japan.
1. Lloyd-Jones DM, et al. Lifetime risk for development of atrial fibrillation: the Framingham Heart Study. Circulation 2004;110:1042-6.
2. Fuster V, et al. ACC/AHA/ESC 2006 Guidelines for the Management of Patients with Atrial Fibrillation – executive summary. Circulation 2006;114:700-52.
3. Kannel WB, et al. Final Draft Status of the Epidemiology of Atrial Fibrillation. Med Clin North Am. 2008;92(1):17–40.
4. Atlas of Heart Disease and Stroke, World Health Organization, September 2004. Viewed Dec 2010 at www.who.int/cardiovascular_diseases/en/ cvd_atlas_15_burden_stroke.pdf .
5. Wolf PA, et al. Atrial fibrillation as an independent risk factor for stroke: the Framingham Study. Stroke 1991;22(8):983-8.
6. Marini C, et al. Contribution of atrial fibrillation to incidence and outcome of ischaemic stroke: results from a population-based study. Stroke 2005;36:1115-9.
7. Lin HJ, et al. Stroke severity in atrial fibrillation: the Framingham study. Stroke 1996;27:1760-4.
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