Learn about Atrial Fibrillation: an irregular or rapid heartbeat Video

Atrial fibrillation is a type of heart disease characterized by an irregular or rapid heartbeat. A-F can cause palpitations, dizziness, light headedness and is one of the most common causes of stroke.
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Martin Wendover: Chances are that you've probably never heard of Atrial fibrillation or AF but it affects up to a quarter of a million Canadians. It is a serious heart condition characterized by irregular or rapid heartbeat, that can be both frightening and debilitating; particularly for the growing number of AF patients who end up in hospital with strokes, congestive heart failure, and other heart related problems. Dr. Stuart Connolly, Professor of Medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton is very familiar with this disease. He's the principal investigator for the ATHENA study which examined on new treatment Dronedarone. He believes it may change the way the disease is treated in the future. Dr. Stuart Connolly: The results of ATHENA are indeed very conclusive. We've very high statistical certainty that it does reduce hospitalization for cardiovascular cause or death. There are also some reasonable indications that it reduces cardiovascular mortality, death from cardiac arrhythmia and stroke. Martin Wendover: The study provides new hope for patients and their physicians because treatment options up until now have been limited. Dr. Stuart Connolly: Well, current treatments for Atrial fibrillation are not very good. They are not highly effective and they have quite a lot of side-effects. Furthermore, none of them has ever been shown to reduce any important cardiovascular outcomes. Martin Wendover: The ATHENA study is the largest ever conducted in AF patients. It involved more than 4000 patients and 35 countries including Canada. Results showed a 45% decrease in the risk of arrhythmic death and a 24% reduction in the risk of hospitalization or death for many cause. Dr. Paul Dorian, Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto is also encouraged by the study results. He explains that Atrial fibrillation is a particular kind of a heart disease that is very important to know about. Dr. Paul Dorian: First, it's very common; second, it often causes the impairment of quality of life because it causes palpitations, dizziness, and light-headedness and third and most importantly, it frequently leads to hospitalization as a consequence of the heart rhythm problem, and perhaps even more importantly, it's one of the most common causes of stroke in our society. Martin Wendover: AF maybe even more common than is generally recognized. Some patients may have the disease and experience, no symptoms. Others may have occasional symptoms but don't report them. Dr. Paul Dorian: Once this medication is available, in my opinion, this will allow doctors a very important and new option in treating patients with Atrial fibrillation. Martin Wendover: If you'd like to learn more about AF, speak with your doctor. Martin Wendover reporting.

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