Cardiac Arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats), including Atrial Fibrillation and Atrial Flutter are conditions that affect a large percentage of Australia’s population, from young children through to adults. Atrial Fibrillation alone affects 1 in 4 Australians over the age of 40. A recent study commissioned by the Stroke Foundation, The Economic Costs of Atrial Fibrillation in Australia, shows that:
- People with Atrial Fibrillation are up to seven times more likely to have a stroke than the general population
- People with Atrial Fibrillation are up to three times more likely to experience heart failure
- The cost to the Australian economy of Atrial Fibrillation alone is around $1.25 billion every year
- The condition is responsible for more than 45,000 hospitalisations each year.
What is an Arrhythmia?
Cardiac arrhythmia (also dysrhythmia) is a term for any of a large and varied group of conditions in which there is abnormal electrical activity in the heart. The heart beat may be too fast or too slow, and may be regular or irregular.
Below are some links to information about cardiac arrhythmias:
The Victor Chang Institute
The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute carries out research into a wide range of cardiac conditions. The site is a source of information about heart conditions and the research that is currently being undertaken in Australia.
The American Heart Association
This is an excellent resource for finding out anything to do with the heart, for healthy lifestyle tips and information about children and heart disease.
The University of San Francisco Cardiology Department
For information about the electrophysiology of the heart and the various treatments available.
There are suggestions that certain medications may be instrumental in causing cardiac arrhythmias. Researchers at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute in Sydney are undertaking research to identify drugs which might be particularly dangerous. The discussion below outlines this issue.
The direct thrombin inhibitor dabigatran, representing what some see as a potential alternative to warfarin, has caused a stir in the atrial fibrillation community. Warfarin, a vitamin K antagonist, is currently regarded by practitioners as one of the standard anticoagulants administered to appropriate patients with AF to reduce stroke risk and has remained so for several decades. THe following three articles lookat this issue.