Screening for heart rhythm could prevent strokes

Strokes related to atrial fibrillation (AF) could be prevented through detection and treatment using anticoagulants, such as warfarin.

AF is a common abnormal heart rhythm that increases the risk of blood clots inside the heart. The condition often shows no symptoms and is responsible for one third of all strokes.

Researchers studied 5,555 cases from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink, finding patients with previously undetected AF had double the risk of stroke and premature death compared to patients without the condition.

Researchers also found treatment with an anticoagulant drug (warfarin) almost completely reversed the risk of stroke. Aspirin did not significantly reduce risk.

Study co-author Professor Ben Freedman said widespread screening for AF could reduce strokes and help save lives.

Read more at University of Sydney