e-Newsletter - February 2015
Advancing the Prevention, Early Diagnosis, and
Treatment of Life-Threatening Blood Clots
Atrial Fibrillation: And the Beat Goes On 

To recognize National Heart Month, which occurs in February each year, the National Blood Clot Alliance (NBCA) takes a closer look at atrial fibrillation, or AFib, in this month's e-Newsletter. As the most common form of irregular heart beat or arrhythmia, AFib affects more than 2.6 million people nationwide, and increases a person's stroke risk five-fold.  

According to an article in the British Medical Journal (BMJ,1995;311:1361), AFib was perhaps first recognized as far back as 1696 BC, by an ancient Chinese physician who noted a "poor prognosis associated with chaotic irregularity of the pulse."  In actual recorded history, William Harvey, the English physician who was the first to describe the circulation system in detail, was also the first to make note of an irregular heart beat he observed in animals. More modern times ushered In the discovery by William Withering, in 1785, of the therapeutic properties of the digitalis leaf, and his reports that it brought relief to patients with major heart failure and also caused the weak or irregular pulse in one patient to become "more full and regular."  In 1935, Jean-Baptiste Bouillaud termed digitalis "a sort of opium for the heart." For the past 60 years, warfarin has been an important therapeutic option relative to clot-provoked stroke, and cardioversion was first recommended for use in 1969.  

In more recent years, we've witnessed an explosion in AFib research that has given way to important new pharmacologic advances, such as the availability of several new oral anticoagulation therapies indicated for use among people affected by AFib, as well as stunning advances in clot-removal procedures that are being shown to reduce stroke related mortality by as much as 50 percent, and that also are expected to bring about major shifts in patient care.   

Given the aging of our population, the number of people affected by AFib is expected to expand to about 12 million in the U.S. by the year 2050.  Thankfully, as advances in our understanding of AFib have marched forward over time, up to 80 percent of strokes in people with AFib today can be prevented, which makes increased public awareness about clot-provoked stroke with AFib more crucial than it has ever been before.    

Heart Month 2015 provides a prime opportunity for NBCA to contribute to important AFib dialogue that has been taking place nationwide all month long, and we encourage you to learn more about AFib on our website:  AFib Awareness, Preventing Clot-Provoked Stroke

NBCA's AFib Archives

In December 2008, NBCA's Medical and Scientific Advisory Board recommended expansion of the organization's outreach efforts to people affected by atrial fibrillation (AFib).  Shortly thereafter, in 2009, NBCA's Board of Directors endorsed this new program.  

These important decisions reflect NBCA's recognition that people affected by venous clots, such as deep vein thrombosis, and people affected by arterial clots, such as clots that can form with AFib and cause stroke, share a similar patient experience:  Both groups face the dangers of blood clots and also the need for anticoagulation therapy.


In recent years, NBCA has created several important programs in this arena, for example:


1. A symposium focused on the topic of adherence to anticoagultiaon therapy among AFib and DVT/PE patients, the proceedings of which can be seen here:


2.  An AFib awareness survey, the results of which can be seen here:

Game Changer: Mechanical Removal of Blood Clots

At the International Stroke Conference, hosted by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA) in Nashville, TN, last week, three pivotal studies involving clot removal in ischemic stroke were presented. 

The results of these studies showed that people who have ischemic strokes caused by a large vessel blockage will have much better outcomes if the clot is quickly removed mechanically, versus dealing with the clots using the clot busting drug t-PA alone.

The results of the three studies reported at this conference, including the ESCAPE, EXTEND-IA, and SWIFT PRIME studies, are tremendously promising, and follow on the MR CLEAN study published in the December 2014 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).  In light of the dramatic results seen with these studies, the president-elect of the Society of NeuroInterventional Surgery, Donald Frei, MD, says his organization plans to issue new guidelines for the treatment of ischemic stroke within a few weeks, and he adds that he expects AHA/ASA will do the same.  According to Dr. Frei, this type of endovascular treatment or clot removal can reduce deaths due to stroke by 50 percent. 

Read more about the studies presented at the International Stroke Conference here Read more about the MR CLEAN study here:  New York Times, NEJM.


AFib Patient Perspectives 

Debbe's Prescription for Adherence: Patient Empowerment
"I think there are so many ways we can improve 
the care of AFib and find better ways to help 
patients adhere to prescribed treatment plans,
in terms of anticoagulation therapy. We need to focus on ways to improve communication between patients and physicians." 

Read Debbe's story here.

AFib: Always Top of Mind, written by NBCA Board Member Kay Holcombe
"If I met a newly diagnosed AFib patient, I would tell them all the things I didn't know. First, this is not a rare condition. Millions of people have AFib. Second, your life and your quality of life are in your control.  There are medications you can take, procedures you can try.  In most cases, this is 
not an unmanageable condition. So, live your 
life the way it works best for you."
Read Kay's story here.


Community Connection

Coming Soon, Near You?
Whether you walk, run, volunteer, donate, or become inspired to create your own signature event, NBCA thanks you for your commitment to our mission and your efforts to raise funds and awareness about the dangers of blood clots. 

Upcoming events are scheduled in Los Angeles, Illinois, Ohio, Chicago, Texas, and Georgia and FloridaClick the links for more details or check NBCA's calendar of events to find out what may be happening in your area.  

A Super Hero Taken Too Soon
Although he looked like a super hero with bulging biceps and a larger-than-life personality, he too had his kryptonite. 

Read Manu Ajamu Williams' story, as told by Christina Martin, here.

Click here for more information about a Stop the Clot 5K Run/Walk in memory of Manu.

Shop at Amazon ... Support NBCA
When you shop at AmazonSmile, Amazon donates 0.5% of the purchase price of the items 
you buy to the National Blood Clot Alliance. 

Bookmark the link http://smile.amazon.com/ch/56-2425135 and support us every time 
you shop.

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