Stroke risk IS within our control, despite what Canadians believe

Feb 12, 2013, 08:00 ET from Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd.

Like a retirement fund, the Health RRSP (Reduce the Risk of Stroke Plan) makes it easy for Canadians to make a long-term investment into their loved ones' health 

BURLINGTON, ON, Feb. 12, 2013 /CNW/ - When it comes to our chance of having a stroke, the vast majority of Canadians wager that the odds are stacked against us. According to a new national survey, over 95 per cent of Canadians believe that stroke can happen to anyone1 : you, your family, your friends, your neighbours, and countless others. Some Canadians say there is nothing they can do to prevent a stroke from happening.1 What's more, almost one-third of those surveyed believe that having a stroke is largely out of their control1 and about one quarter of Canadians think that having a stroke is simply luck of the draw.1

The good news is that unbeknownst to many, there are steps that can be taken to take control and help reduce the risk of stroke - especially the most common kind of stroke, known as ischemic stroke.

During this time of year, when many Canadians are planning for their financial future, a new online program - the Health RRSP (Reduce the Risk of Stroke Plan) - makes it easy for Canadians to also invest in the future of their health and the health of their loved ones. This can start with a simple conversation with their doctor - a critical step that about 80 per cent of Canadians are not taking.1

Atrial fibrillation or AF is the most common heart rhythm disorder affecting up to 350,000 Canadians. People with AF are three to five times more at risk of having a stroke than those without the condition.2  After the age of 55, the incidence of AF doubles with each decade of life and after age 60, one-third of all strokes are caused by AF.3 Ischemic stroke (caused by an obstruction or blood clot in the brain) is the most common type of stroke.4 AF-related strokes tend to be more severe than those related to other conditions5 - so it is vital that Canadians take control of their health and the health of their loved ones.

"I've seen patients who suffered a stroke due to AF that likely could have been prevented," says Dr. Alan Bell, Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto.   "Sometimes AF has no symptoms, which is why it is so important to have a doctor routinely check your heart rate for any abnormalities.2 There are medications today with favorable efficacy and safety profiles that have been shown to reduce the risk of AF-related strokes, especially ischemic strokes.6 What's great about the Health RRSP is that it reminds those at risk to take action now - when perhaps they thought there was nothing they could do."

The Health RRSP helps Canadians invest in their loved ones' health.  By visiting - an educational resource with information on AF and its link to stroke - Canadians can register their loved one by sending them a calendar notice to remind them to speak with their doctor about their risk.

For every person registered to the Health RRSP, a $5 donation will be made to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, to a maximum of $10,000.  A live tracker on the website allows Canadians to see the impact of signing up their loved one.

"Healthy living is also important for reducing the chance of having a stroke," says Ian Joiner, director of stroke for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. "Information about the best options to reduce the various risk factors for stroke, including atrial fibrillation, can make a real difference in improving our health - now and into the future."

The survey also showed that the vast majority of Canadians know the warning signs of stroke (weakness, vision problems, headache, dizziness and trouble speaking)1,7 and to seek immediate medical help if they think they're having one. However, 80 per cent still wish they knew more about how to prevent a stroke from happening to them.1

According to Dr. Alan Bell, there are three simple things Canadians can do to invest in their health today.
"Taking action is what will make a difference. Register your loved one into the Health RRSP and help them learn as much as they can about AF and its connection to stroke.  Make sure they talk to their doctor about their risk and if they have AF, take action to reduce their risk of all types of stroke, especially ischemic stroke.  Finally, don't forget to share what you've learned with your network."

About Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd.
The Boehringer Ingelheim group is one of the world's 20 leading pharmaceutical companies. Headquartered in Ingelheim, Germany, it operates globally with 145 affiliates and more than 44,000 employees.

Since it was founded in 1885, the family-owned company has been committed to researching, developing, manufacturing and marketing novel products of high therapeutic value for human and veterinary medicine. As a central element of its culture, Boehringer Ingelheim pledges to act socially responsible. Involvement in social projects, caring for employees and their families, and providing equal opportunities for all employees form the foundation of the global operations. Mutual cooperation and respect, as well as environmental protection and sustainability are intrinsic factors in all of Boehringer Ingelheim's endeavours.

In 2011, Boehringer Ingelheim posted net sales of 13.2 billion euro while spending almost 24 per cent of net sales in its largest business segment Prescription Medicines on research and development.

The Canadian headquarters of Boehringer Ingelheim was established in 1972 in Burlington, Ontario, Canada. Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd. is home to more than 750 employees including 170 scientists across the country.

About the Survey
A survey of 1,500 adult Canadians was completed online between November 19 - 22, 2012 using Léger Marketing's online panel, LegerWeb. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/- 2.5%, 19 times out of 20.

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1 Leger Marketing. Atrial Fibrillation and Stroke Survey Data Tables. November 23, 2012..; pages 9, 11, 13, 15, 19, 21, 24, 25, 27

2 Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. Atrial Fibrillation  Accessed December 19, 2012

3 Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. Statistics  Accessed December 19, 2012

4 Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Atrial Fibrillation Fact Sheet 2010.

5 Lin HJ, Wolf PA, Kelly-Hayes M, et al. Stroke severity in atrial fibrillation: the Framingham study. Stroke 1996;27:1760-4

6 PRADAXA Product Monograph. December  24, 2012.

7 Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. 2009 Stroke Report Card. Accessed December 12, 2012

SOURCE Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd.

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