The FINANCIAL -- Nine out of 10 patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) surveyed were concerned about the risk of a stroke. Oral anticoagulant (OAC) treatments are usually prescribed to reduce this risk and the vast majority of patients actively sought information about their treatment.
Many patients even wanted to be involved in the choice of the oral anticoagulant. These, and further results from a first-of-its-kind international survey of over 900 AF patients, were presented at the 2nd European Stroke Organisation Conference, 10–12 May in Barcelona.
“For the first time, we have in-depth data about the perceptions and treatment preferences of AF patients across multiple countries,” comments Dr Deirdre Lane, Senior Lecturer in Cardiovascular Health at the University of Birmingham, UK, who led the research. “One key result of the survey is that many AF patients want to be involved in the decision about their oral anticoagulant treatment. This desire mirrors recommendations in current professional guidelines, which call for a consideration of patient values and preferences when choosing oral anticoagulant therapy.”
The survey highlighted the importance of the interaction between patients and their treating physician: for over three quarters (76%) of AF patients, their doctor was the key source of information on their OAC treatment. On average, patients consulted two to three information sources in total.2 Still, patients’ knowledge of the causes, signs and symptoms of stroke was inconsistent – only about half (48%) of AF patients have good or moderate knowledge of stroke symptoms, causes and risk factors.
Stroke knowledge influenced a number of patient preferences. Patients with good or moderate stroke knowledge:
ranked stroke prevention higher as an important factor in the choice of their OAC (65% and 54% vs. an average of 47 %)
preferred to be involved in the decision about the OAC treatment more often (73% and 62% vs. an average of 56%).
“Strokes related to AF are particularly severe – they can be fatal and survivors may be left with significant disability requiring life-long care,” advises Jon Barrick, President of the Stroke Alliance for Europe. “It is crucial that AF patients are empowered to actively participate in the management of their own condition, especially as AF is a chronic disease, which requires continuous treatment. An open dialogue with their doctors about their condition, how to manage it, and which treatments to take to reduce their risk of stroke is one crucial element of that.”