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EU discusses action on stroke prevention

Stakeholders meet at European Parliament

A group of MEPs, patients and physician representatives met this week at the European Parliament in Brussels to highlight the need for urgent national action to prevent strokes.

The event was intended to raise awareness of strokes, particularly those caused by atrial fibrillation (AF), characterised by an irregular heartbeat.

Irish MEP Nessa Childers, who attended the meeting, said: "Atrial fibrillation is not a well-recognised risk factor for stroke and yet it causes some of the most debilitating and costly strokes. This is why it is so important that stroke prevention and the risk factors for stroke are strongly addressed in EU and national health plans.

It is thought that 15 million people worldwide experience a stroke each year, leaving five million disabled. In Europe, the annual cost of strokes is estimated to be €64bn. AF, which increases stroke risk by 500 per cent, is a major contributor to this.

Italian MEP Oreste Rossi also attended the meeting. He said: "Given the debilitating and costly nature of atrial fibrillation related strokes, it is vital that EU and national health policy addresses the gaps that allow patients to go undiagnosed and to receive sub-optimal management,"

The stakeholders behind the initiative highlighted a number of campaigns to deliver better recognition and management of AF and prevention of strokes. Among these is the work of the Stroke Alliance for Europe, which is spearheading the Sign Against Stroke campaign.

The campaign, which is backed by Bayer, is asking people to sign a charter to help drive action to prevent AF-related strokes and putting stroke prevention on EU and national policy agendas.

Bayer's interest in the area stems from its drug Xarelto (rivaroxaban), which is one of three next-generation anticoagulants to reach market in recent years.

Xarelto was approved in the EU at the end of 2011 to prevent stroke and systemic embolism in adult with no-valvular AF.

The EU meeting coincided with the World Health Organisation (WHO) European Ministerial Conference on the Prevention and Control Non-Communicable Diseases, held in Turkmenistan.

Article by
Tara Craig

5th December 2013

From: Marketing, Healthcare

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