WASHINGTON – According to a new survey issued by the Heart Rhythm Society, the majority of Americans are unaware of two serious and potentially life-threatening heart rhythm disorders, atrial fibrillation (AF) and sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). In fact, only one in three Americans have ever heard of AF or recognize the number of lives claimed each year from SCA. Throughout February, Heart Health Month, the Heart Rhythm Society spotlights the need for public education on heart rhythm disorders affecting millions of people, and the specialists best suited to treat them – electrophysiologists.
More than 250,000 deaths occur each year as a result of SCA, more than breast cancer, lung cancer or AIDs. Yet, according to the recent survey, more than 65 percent of Americans not only underestimate the seriousness of SCA, but also believe SCA is a type of heart attack. While this current data does show a 5 percent increase since the Society’s 2008 SCA awareness survey, the lack of awareness remains high and further education is needed. Additionally, more than 2 million people in the United States (U.S.) live with AF. Yet, survey results showed only 50 percent of Americans know AF is a type of heart rhythm disorder.
“The Heart Rhythm Society is committed to helping educate the public about heart health and creating the best possible environment to improve long-term patient care,” said Bruce L. Wilkoff, MD, FHRS, CCDS, president of Heart Rhythm Society. “We want people to become more aware of the life-threatening heart rhythm conditions affecting millions of Americans every day, those that go beyond heart attacks or other well-known types of heart disease. Heart Health Month is a great time to spread the word.”
The Heart Rhythm Society has developed two consumer awareness initiatives to focus on risk assessment, prevention and treatment of SCA and AF. The “Apples and Oranges” campaign explains the differences between SCA and a heart attack, while the “A-Fib Feels Like” campaign brings to light the warning signs of AF and the link between AF and stroke. Altogether, these campaigns provide detailed information to help people become more informed about common heart health issues and the field of electrophysiology.
Know Your Risk: Heart Rhythm Society Prevention Pulse Points
During Heart Health Month, take a close look at heart health and five simple ways to help prevent and seek early treatment for these common heart conditions.
- Small Choices, Big Heart Benefits: Live a healthy lifestyle — exercise regularly, eat healthy foods, maintain a healthy weight and avoid smoking to help reduce the chances of heart health problems.
- Know Your Rhythm: Pay attention to abnormal heart rhythms — palpitations, fast heart rates, really slow heart rates, fluttering in your chest and shortness of breath can also be signs of rhythm disorders.
- By The Numbers: Treat and monitor health conditions that can contribute to heart problems, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
- Family First: Know your family medical history and understand the associated risk for other cardiovascular related conditions, like heart failure.
- Don’t Skip A Beat: Document your symptoms and discuss them with a clinician/electrophysiologist to determine the best treatment options for you.
- Learn More Online: Visit our website, www.HRSonline.org for interactive tips and tools, patient resources and more.
Gain Unique Insights: New Educational Videos Show Real World Impact of AF & SCA
The Society has issued its first ever patient education video series as a resource to address the common misperceptions around heart rhythm disorders. The videos use a mix of real-world footage and animation to help patients and caregivers understand AF and SCA, including the warning signs, treatment options and a symptom tracker. Check out the new videos to learn more: AF Patient Education Video and SCA Patient Education Video.
“We must continue to raise the bar when it comes to educating people about their heart health,” added Dr. Wilkoff. “It is not only important for people to better understand common heart rhythm disorders, but also to know more about the doctors who treat them, called electrophysiologists.”
What is an Electrophysiologist?
There is a special type of heart doctor that treat patients with heart rhythm problems—called an electrophysiologist. Electrophysiologists are cardiologists with advanced medical training to treat problems with the heart’s electrical system, which result in heart rhythm disorders. The electrophysiologist can also help you learn if you or your family members are at risk for life-threatening rhythm disturbances, including SCA and AF. Find one near you by going here.
For more information about the Heart Rhythm Society and resources please visit, www.HRSonline.org.
About the Heart Rhythm Society
The Heart Rhythm Society is the international leader in science, education and advocacy for cardiac arrhythmia professionals and patients, and the primary information resource on heart rhythm disorders. Its mission is to improve the care of patients by promoting research, education and optimal health care policies and standards. Incorporated in 1979 and based in Washington, DC, it has a membership of more than 5,400 heart rhythm professionals in more than 72 countries around the world. www.hrsonline.org