Treatment for atrial fibrillation 'could be better'

3 July 2012

Treatment for a potentially life-threatening heart condition that affects a million people in the UK is not as effective as it could or should be, experts have warned.

Atrial fibrillation (AF), which can cause the blood to pool and clot and multiplies the risk of a stroke by 500 per cent, should be treated with anti-clotting therapies such as warfarin in the majority of cases.

However, in many instances people who could benefit from these drugs are instead being given regal tablets such as aspirin, which can help to thin the blood but are nowhere near as effective, the new Stroke in Atrial Fibrillation Expert (Safe) report shows.

It was compiled by Dr Alan Begg, a GP with a special interest in cardiology, who said trial evidence supports the theory that aspirin is far less effective at preventing stroke in patients with AF than other drugs such as warfarin.

He told the Press Association: "It is extremely concerning that healthcare professionals often seem to be choosing the 'easy option' rather than better stroke protection.

"Even experienced doctors falsely believe they are fully protecting people by recommending aspirin, but in atrial fibrillation it does not offer the best protection against strokes."

Posted by Philip Briggs

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