Bloomberg News

Doctors Undertreat Major Risk Factor for Strokes, Study Says

October 12, 2011

Oct. 13 (Bloomberg) -- U.K. doctors are undertreating a major risk factor for strokes, according to research published in the journal BMJ Open.

Only one in four stroke patients who were diagnosed for atrial fibrillation, or irregular heartbeat, were prescribed preventative blood-thinning treatment, researchers at Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH and Imperial College London’s National Heart and Lung Institute wrote after analyzing data from 32,151 patients who had a stroke between 1999 and 2008.

Atrial fibrillation occurs when the upper chambers of the heart quiver rather than contract, allowing blood to pool and form clots that can lead to strokes. About 110,000 strokes occur in England each year, with 46,500 deaths resulting from them in England and Wales in 2008, or 9 percent of all deaths, the researchers said.

“Survival after stroke has improved in the past 10 years,” the researchers wrote. “There is, however, scope for further improvement.”

While women were significantly more likely to have serious atrial fibrillation than men, they were less likely to be given blood-thinning therapy, according to the study. The treatment was given to 29 percent of men with the condition and 22 percent of women, the study found.

Boehringer Ingelheim, based in Ingelheim, Germany, funded the research. The company sells the Pradaxa blood-thinning medicine.

-- Editors: Kristen Hallam, Phil Serafino

To contact the reporters on this story: Makiko Kitamura in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Phil Serafino at

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