HomeAustraliaA third of Australian adults are unaware of stroke-related atrial fibrillation

A third of Australian adults are unaware of stroke-related atrial fibrillation

  • Alarmingly, up to 30% of people living with atrial fibrillation remain undiagnosed.4

  • 1 in 3 Australians are at risk of developing atrial fibrillation in their lifetime,2 increasing your risk of stroke, heart failure and dementia.5

Monday 18 September 2023, Sydney, Australia

A comprehensive national survey sponsored by leading health promotion charity Hearts4heart has revealed alarming gaps in awareness of atrial fibrillation among Australian adults, prompting urgent calls from doctors, politicians, patients and carers to step up education and awareness campaigns to address this critical issue head-on. .

The survey results revealed that 1 in 3 Australians (approximately 6.7 million) were completely unaware of atrial fibrillation.1 a condition that affects approximately half a million Australians.3 Alarmingly, up to 30 percent of people living with this condition remain undiagnosed.4

“Knowledge gaps like these are concerning and highlight the urgent need for greater awareness and education about atrial fibrillation and its symptoms,” said Tanya Hall, CEO and founder of Hearts4heart, who also lives with the condition.

“Early detection and awareness play a vital role in the effective management of atrial fibrillation and improving the quality of life of those affected,” said Ms Hall.

Atrial fibrillation is a heart condition in which the upper chambers of the heart beat rapidly and irregularly. This can affect the heart’s ability to pump blood efficiently throughout the body.7

It affects more than 1 in 4 Australians aged 55 and over,8Atrial fibrillation is responsible for 1 in 4 strokes.6 and can lead to other life-threatening health complications if left untreated, such as heart failure and dementia.5That is why awareness is so important.

“The urgent need to close the knowledge gap and promote early detection is more critical than ever to the health and well-being of the Australian population,” said Maria Vamvakinou MP, co-chair of the Friends of Heart and Stroke Parliamentary Foundations.

Associated with a three-fold increased risk of heart failure and a seven-fold increased risk of life-threatening stroke,9, 10 Atrial fibrillation is the leading cause of cardiovascular hospitalizations.9 resulting in an annual direct healthcare cost of approximately $1.63 billion.eleven

“With early diagnosis, treatment and lifestyle changes, a person with atrial fibrillation can reduce their risk of hospitalization and stroke and improve their quality of life, which is why awareness is so important,” said Dr. Adrian Elliott, leader in the field of cardiac arrhythmias and professor at the Center for Heart Rhythm Disorders.

“If you are over 65 or experiencing any symptoms, talk to your GP and have your heart checked,” Dr Elliott said.

Mr Les Botha, who recently recovered from a stroke caused by atrial fibrillation, agrees and is keen to see more Australians talk to their GPs about their heart health.

“Get it checked. If I had known about atrial fibrillation earlier, this stroke could have been avoided,” Mr Botha said. Peter Grady and Jim Micholos have also experienced life-threatening health complications after not recognizing (or knowing) the signs of atrial fibrillation.

“Regardless of how many symptoms you experience and how mild they may be, go to your GP immediately and get a proper diagnosis,” said Mr Grady, who suffered a heart attack related to atrial fibrillation.

Mr. Micholos agreed. “Even if you suspect something is wrong with your heart, talk to your doctor. There’s nothing worse than not asking questions and the best place to start is your primary care doctor.”

This Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Week, Hearts4Heart is urging Australians to learn to recognize the symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation and talk to their GP about having their heart checked for irregular heartbeats.

“If you have experienced tachycardia or palpitations, dizziness, unexplained tiredness, difficulty breathing, fainting, swollen ankles or chest pain, speak to your GP. It could save your life,” Mrs Hall said.

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