Cardiovascular and blood disorders

Heart attack and stroke

Cardiovascular disease is the number-one cause of death in many industrialized countries. In 2012, cardiovascular disease resulted in 17.5 million deaths globally with this number estimated to increase to 23.6 million by the year 2030.

Heart attack

The human heart muscle contracts about 70 to 80 times a minute to pump blood through the body. In this way, the heart supplies the organs with oxygen and important nutrients. But what if the blood supply to the heart muscle itself, or parts of it, fails? This is what happens, for example, when heart blood vessels get clogged up with blood clots. The consequence can be what is known as a myocardial infarction – a heart attack.

Most heart attacks begin slowly and are accompanied by chest pain, discomfort, shortness of breath, or outbreaks of sweating. Because such symptoms are not clear-cut, some people wait too long before seeking help. Yet a heart attack can be fatal. A doctor should therefore be consulted as quickly as possible.

Risk factors for a heart attack include high blood pressure, smoking, lack of exercise, being overweight, high blood cholesterol and diabetes.

The main treatment goal for patients who suffered a heart attack is to prevent death, stroke or another heart attack by removing an existing blood clot, and subsequently stopping the formation of new clots. Bayer offers products that may be of benefit for these patients. It is important for doctors and patients to discuss all available treatment options to ensure the patient receives the best medication for him / her.

Stroke

Stroke is the second most common cause of death worldwide, responsible for 6.7 million deaths each year. Of those who survive a stroke, 5 million are left disabled every year. Strokes can be classified into two major categories: haemorrhagic stroke and ischaemic stroke. Haemorrhagic strokes are caused by the rupture of a blood vessel which leads to bleeding inside the brain. 85% of all strokes, however, are ischaemic strokes, caused by an interruption of blood supply to the brain due to a blockage e.g. a blood clot. When the blood cannot reach the brain, brain cells die due to lack of oxygen.

Stroke may result in severely restricted movement, paralysis, loss of speech or vision, which may be permanent, or even death.

Approximately 1 in 5 ischaemic strokes are caused by atrial fibrillation, which is the most common sustained cardiac rhythm disorder.

Atrial fibrillation (AF)

In AF, the upper chambers of the heart (known as the atria) contract irregularly. As a result, the atria do not empty completely and blood does not flow properly, potentially allowing blood clots to form. These blood clots can break loose and travel to the brain, resulting in stroke. The number of people with AF is forecast to increase approximately 2.5-fold by 2050 due to the ageing of the population and improved survival following conditions that predispose to AF such as a heart attack. People with AF are 5 times more likely to suffer a stroke than people without AF. AF-related strokes are also associated with a 50% likelihood of death within one year.

Different medicines exist that inhibit clot formation in patients with AF in order to prevent stroke. Bayer offers such a product that may be of benefit for these patients. It is important for doctors and patients to discuss all available treatment options to ensure the patient receives the best medication for him / her.

Advice for patients

Each body reacts differently to medicines. Therefore it is impossible to tell which medicine works best for you. Please consult your physician.