The Stroke Association has launched a new radio advertising campaign to raise awareness of atrial fibrillation (a common form of irregular heartbeat) and its link to stroke.

The new ads which are voiced by TV doctor, Dr Mark Porter, as part of the charity's Ask First campaign, bring to light the importance of seeking medical advice and treatment if you think you may be suffering from an irregular heartbeat.

It is hoped that the ads will prompt the public to visit their GP if they are at all concerned so that people diagnosed with the condition can receive the appropriate treatment to reduce their risk of having a stroke.

Atrial fibrillation affects around 750,000 people in the UK and it accounts for 14 per cent of all strokes, yet in a recent poll carried out by Ipsos MORI on behalf of The Stroke Association, over two thirds of the public (66 per cent) were unable to identify the symptoms of AF as a possible warning sign of a future stroke.

Steve Benveniste, Campaigns Officer at The Stroke Association said, "The majority of people recognise factors such as smoking and high blood pressure as risk factors for stroke, yet public awareness of AF as a risk factor is incredibly low.

"Whilst many patients with AF don't have any symptoms, key signs to look out for include your heart beating irregularly and very fast, shortness of breath and palpitations.

"In many cases, AF can be treated and a person's risk of stroke can greatly be reduced. We hope the radio ads will go some way to raising awareness of the condition and more people will be encouraged to seek advice from their doctor about their potential stroke risk."

The Stroke Association's Ask First campaign aims to encourage people to speak to their GP if they think they might have atrial fibrillation in order to 'prevent a stroke later'. The ads will be aired on radio stations throughout the South East Coast, South Central, West Midlands and Scotland over the coming weeks.

Joy Taylor-Smith, 80, from Westerham, had a severe stroke seven years ago as a result of atrial fibrillation. Joy says, "I'd been suffering from AF for 4 years before my stroke and although I had been told that there was a possibility that I could have a stroke, when it actually happened my whole world was turned upside down."

Joy's stroke left her paralysed down her right side and she was unable to communicate for many months. However, Joy has worked incredibly hard over the last few years and through determination she has made significant progress. She celebrated a considerable milestone recently as she enjoyed her 80th birthday party and gave a speech to the 23 guests - a remarkable achievement, having initially lost her speech entirely.

Joy says, "The last few years have been incredibly tough for both me and my family. I'd never heard of AF before being diagnosed with it and I had no idea that the condition could increase someone's risk of stroke.

"The symptoms of AF are not prominent in everyone meaning that it can go undetected for years. I'd advise everyone to speak to their GP if they are at all concerned."

Notes About The Stroke Association's Ipsos MORI survey

Results for the General Public question are based on a nationally representative sample of 1,040 adults aged 16-64 in Great Britain.

Fieldwork was conducted on Ipsos MORI's face-to-face omnibus between 24 and 27 September 2010. Data has been weighted to reflect the demographics of the population in Great Britain (based on defined profiles for age, social grade, region, tenure, ethnicity and working status - within sex). The data is based on all respondents unless indicated otherwise.

All figures are in percentages.

Unless otherwise stated all responses are prompted with a given set of options for respondents to choose from.

About The Stroke Association's Atrial Fibrillation campaign

The Stroke Association is campaigning to ensure that primary healthcare professionals are screening, diagnosing and treating atrial fibrillation.

The charity aims to raise awareness of atrial fibrillation and its link to stroke amongst the public and will lobby national policy makers for better implementation of guidance around AF detection/ treatment.

The campaign is partly funded by an unrestricted educational grant by Bayer Healthcare, Boehringer Ingelheim and sanofi-aventis. The Stroke Association retains full control of its campaign messages and materials.

Source:
The Stroke Association

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