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As women are at higher risk of stroke, and more likely to die from the condition, this year’s theme is ‘I am woman’.
Prof John Camm, Professor of Clinical Cardiology at St George’s University London and Professor of Cardiology at Imperial College London, said: “It is estimated that strokes account for a tenth of all deaths in the world every year, therefore promoting awareness of the risk factors should be a top priority for all policy makers and healthcare providers.
“Women are more likely to experience hypertension, diabetes, depression and obesity, all of which increase the likelihood of stroke. Given the increased risk, it is vital that we call on more women to get health checks and to better understand their stroke risk.”
A key risk factor for stroke is atrial fibrillation (AF), a condition in which the heartbeat is rapid and irregular. People with AF have a five times higher stroke risk compared to the general population and women are 2.5 times more likely to die from the condition than men.
Awareness of the signs and symptoms of the disease are therefore needed to ensure detection of AF and reduce the risk of AF-related stroke.
On the association between AF and stroke, Prof Camm added, “Those with atrial fibrillation have a five-fold increased risk of stroke, with AF-related strokes accounting for 15 per cent of the 15 million strokes that occur globally every year. Recent estimates suggest that around 33 million people in the world have AF. We need to raise awareness of the link between this condition and stroke, to ensure that as many people as possible are diagnosed and treated with anticoagulation medication accordingly, and are therefore better protected from stroke.”
Discussing the importance of pulse checks, Ms Trudie Lobban MBE, Founder and CEO of the Arrhythmia Alliance, STARS and the AF Association, commented: “The public needs to understand that symptoms such as breathlessness, dizziness and heart palpitations need to be checked at once by a doctor. AF can be detected using a simple pulse check to identify if your heart rhythm is irregular. By knowing your pulse and sharing this with you doctor it can lead to a quicker diagnosis”