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Arrhythmia Watch Editorial Staff


Featured, Reviews

Two invaluable stroke and AF resources recently published

Stroke is a major cause of mortality in the UK, accounting for about 53 000 deaths annually. 12 5000 strokes per year are thought to be directly attributable to atrial fibrillation (AF). Now two publications are available to update health care professionals on this challenging clinical problem.

The first book, Stroke statistics 2009,is the latest edition of a series of statistical compendia and supplements that document the burden of cardiovascular disease in the United Kingdom. This series of publications, published by the British Heart Foundation, usually focuses on coronary heart disease, but Stroke Statistics is jointly published by the British Heart Foundation and The Stroke Association and focuses on the important and substantial burden of stroke in the United Kingdom.

Stroke Statistics is an invaluable resource and is designed for policy makers, health professionals, medical researchers and anyone else with an interest in stroke or cardiovascular disease. It aims to provide the most recent statistics related to the burden of stroke and to document the geographic, social and ethnic inequalities in the experience of stroke.

Stroke Statistics is divided into five chapters. Chapter 1 documents trends and patterns in stroke mortality and premature mortality. Chapter 2 reports on the morbidity burden of stroke, both in terms of prevalence (the rate of people who have had a stroke in the past) and incidence (the rate of first ever strokes). Chapter 3 describes the burden of stroke on the National Health Service, in terms of drug therapy, hospitalisations and surgical procedures. Chapter 4 provides estimates of the prevalence of risk factors for stroke, broken down by age, sex, socioeconomic status and ethnicity. Details about Government targets to tackle the risk factor status of the population are also provided where available. Chapter 5 provides new estimates, calculated specifically for Stroke Statistics, of the economic cost of stroke to the National Health Service and to the United Kingdom economy.

Where the supporting data have allowed, results have been presented for as many stroke subtypes as possible, using the following breakdown: cerebrovascular disease, consisting of stroke and other cerebrovascular disease; stroke consisting of haemorrhagic stroke, ischaemic stroke and unspecified stroke; haemorrhagic stroke consisting of subarachnoid haemorrhage and intracranial haemorrhage. In addition, results regarding transient ischaemic attack have been included where possible. Because of inconsistencies between datasets, it has not always been possible to follow this structure. For example, in some tables the term ‘stroke’ refers to all cerbrovascular diseases. Notes to the tables indicate where this structure has been deviated from.

Various sources of information have been used in compiling Stroke Statistics and these sources are listed in the footnotes to each table. The sources of data can be divided into: routinely collected data, national studies and local studies. Each source has its strengths and weaknesses and not all sources provide data for all ages or even both sexes. Data are not always available for all regions of the United Kingdom and data are collected in different ways with different degrees of validity and reliability. Sample sizes of studies vary considerably, as do sampling methods. Comparisons between these different data sets should be made with caution.

All of the tables and figures in Stroke Statistics are also available on the British Heart Foundation’s website. Further copies of this publication can be downloaded from this website, as well as copies of the most recent Coronary Heart Disease Statistics compendium and other recent supplements on Diet, Physical Activity and Obesity and Regional and Social Differences in Coronary Heart Disease and European Cardiovascular Disease Statistics.

The website aims to be the most comprehensive and up-to-date source of statistics on cardiovascular disease in the United Kingdom. The website is updated on an ongoing basis and contains a wider range of tables and figures that are available in any of the publications in the Coronary Heart Disease Statistics series.

Source: British Heart Foundation

Stroke statistics 2009 –

The second publication, Commissioning for stroke Prevention in Primary Care-The Role of Atrial Fibrillation, is published by NHS Improvement. It considers the evidence that a review of AF management in primary care is needed to develop more systematic strategies for the diagnosis and optimal management of patients with AF to reduce stroke risk.

It has been published following a collaborative meeting in November 2008 between NHS Improvement, the Department of Health and representatives from a spectrum of  professional and patient organizations including the Atrial Fibrillation Association (AFA), the British Geriatric Society, The British Heart Foundation, Heart Rhythm UK and the Primary Care Cardiovascular Society, to address the management of AF in primary care.

The 14 page booklet provides data on prevalence of AF and its importance as a cause of stroke, benefits of warfarin and cost-efficacy of anticoagulation in AF and which patients to treat. It also delves in to how AF might better be detected and assessment of risk using CHADS2 score.

The document can be downloaded from, and is highly recommended

Published on: September 14, 2009

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  • ArrhythmiaAlliance
  • Stars
  • Anticoagulation Europe
  • Atrial Fibrillation Association

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