Health Watch: Screen for AFIB, Fewer Strokes?

ORLANDO, Fla (KFSN) -- According to strokecenter.com, nearly 795,000 strokes occur in the U.S. every year, and they kill over 140,000 people. But a new study suggests that you might be able to reduce risk earlier if you find one of its causes first.

One of the leading causes of a stroke is an irregular heartbeat, or AFib, which up to 6.1 million people live within the U.S.

"Some studies have suggested that the lifetime risk of having at least one episode of atrial fibrillation is one in four," shared David DeLurgio, MD, Professor of Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine.

Every 40 seconds someone has a stroke. But knowing someone has AFib early might pose an advantage.

"Is this patient at risk of a stroke? If so, we'll typically treat that patient with a blood thinner," continued Dr. DeLurgio.

Blood thinners reduce the risk of stroke from four to one percent and the risk of death decreases from seven to four percent. So why not screen for the heart condition?

A group of experts recently debated the topic and concluded that while this could maximize treatment, the risk would be misdiagnosing a patient causing someone to bleed or have unnecessary discomfort.

If you want to start checking your heartbeat yourself, you can download the Fibricheck app on your smart phone which uses your camera to detect irregular heartbeats. If you have an apple watch download the Kardia app and get a Kardiaband which is an FDA approved device that senses your heartbeat.

Cardiacsense is another app that will send your ECG to your doctor when it is irregular. This app is still waiting to be approved by the FDA. One possible solution is the reading of an ECG, which records the electrical activity of the heart by a clinician. But a study in South Korea showed that ten percent of ECG's were overread causing patients to be overtreated and have anxiety attacks from their misdiagnosis.
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