National Stroke Association's New Faces of Stroke(SM) Campaign Raises Awareness about the Connection between Atrial Fibrillation and Stroke

Two Campaign Ambassadors Share their Stories to Educate Others

CENTENNIAL, Colo., Sept. 5, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- National Stroke Association has launched a new Faces of Stroke(SM) mini-campaign designed to educate about the connection between stroke and Afib, a type of irregular heartbeat that increases risk of stroke by five times. A spin-off of the Faces of Stroke flagship public awareness campaign that aims to change the public perceptions of stroke through sharing personal stories, this mini-campaign honors National Atrial Fibrillation Month in September.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20120905/DC68483)

Two campaign ambassadors will be highlighted throughout September to shed light on the real-life experiences of having Afib. Jason Serapiglia, 32, is not a typical Afib patient because of his young age. It is most common in people over age 60. Pat Turner, 62, is a two-time stroke survivor with Afib that was not diagnosed until after she suffered her first stroke. Watch a public service announcement featuring Jason and Pat.

While 2.2 million Americans have been diagnosed with Afib, there is a need for more awareness about the condition and its connection to stroke. Often, Afib has no obvious symptoms, but some patients describe fluttering, racing or pounding sensations in their chests. "I woke up one morning and was much more aware of my heartbeat than usual," said Mr. Serapiglia. "It felt out of rhythm, something difficult to describe but unmistakable when occurring. After three days, I went to the emergency room. There, I was diagnosed with Afib." 

The good news is that up to 80 percent of Afib-related strokes can be prevented. The Faces of Stroke and Afib campaign encourages people to become more informed about their risk by talking with a healthcare professional, particularly if a person suspects they have an irregular heartbeat. Afib is most common in people with high blood pressure and heart and lung disease.

The campaign also offers easy-to-use online tools to share stories about how Afib and stroke have impacted lives. Jason and Pat's stories illustrate how Afib does not discriminate against age, and how their very different experiences have led them to be champions for raising awareness of Afib and stroke. 

"We believe that patients have the power to influence healthy behaviors through storytelling," said Jim Baranski, Chief Executive Officer of National Stroke Association. "You just have to give them the opportunity. Anyone affected by stroke—no matter the connection—can have a role in raising awareness by telling their stories and sharing them with people they care about. Faces of Stroke and Afib is important because it gives us an opportunity to delve into a focused topic that relates to stroke. Jason, Pat and everyone else who submits their stories about stroke and Afib are spreading the word at a granular level about how to avoid stroke. It's amazing and inspiring to have them be part of this effort."

The Faces of Stroke campaign features an online gallery of hundreds of stroke champions' stories and photos. Participants can submit their story online for free and share it with people in their social networks and via email. Learn more about the campaign at www.stroke.org/faces.

About Stroke

A stroke is a brain attack that occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery or a blood vessel breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain. The first step to prevention is identifying if you have any controllable and uncontrollable risk factors and begin to manage them.

Stroke is an emergency. Treatment may be available if a person reaches the hospital in time. Recognizing warning signs can be easy if you remember to think FAST:

F= Face      

Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

A=Arms        

Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S= Speech    

Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Does the speech sound slurred or strange?

T=Time     

If you observe any of these signs, then it's time to call 9-1-1.

About National Stroke Association

National Stroke Association is the only national organization in the U.S. that focuses 100 percent of its efforts on stroke by developing compelling education and programs focused on prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and support for all impacted by stroke. Founded in 1984, the organization works every day to meet its mission to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke.

Press Contact: Taryn Fort
tfort@stroke.org
303-754-0919

SOURCE National Stroke Association



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