e-Newsletter - February 2016
Advancing the Prevention, Early Diagnosis, and
Treatment of Life-Threatening Blood Clots
Matters of the Heart 

Not only is February home to Valentine's Day, it is also American Heart Month, making it a good month for heartfelt feelings and good heart health too. 

A h ealthy person's heart can beat more than  1 00,000 times a  day, pumping about 2,000 gallons  of blood throughout the body. However, in people with atrial fibrillation (AFib), the upper chambers of the heart beat erratically, which can cause blood to pool in the heart and form clots. Clots that form in the upper chambers of the heart can travel to the brain, resulting in c lot-provoked stroke.

AFib affects more than 2.6 million Americans, and that number is expected to increase to about 12 millio n by the year 2050, due to the aging of our population . While the cause of AFib is sometimes unknown, it frequently is the result of da mage to the heart or the heart's electrical system. Heart damage can occur due to a number of factors, including uncontrolled high blood pressure or arterial disease. AFib also is the most common complication a person may encounter after heart surgery. Anyone can develop atrial fibrillation, but it is most common in people more than fifty years old.   
So why does AFib matter? While AFib alone is not life-threatening, it can lead to serious medical complications, such as clot-provoked stroke. When blood flow slows down in the upper chambers of the heart, it also begins to pool. Nearly one in six strokes is caused by AFib. When it comes to treating AFib, there are two primary treatment goals: manage abnormal heart rate and reduce risk of blood clots and stroke

Although the number of people affected by AFib is expected to expand, so has our understanding of AFib. Up to 80 percent of strokes in people with AFib today can be prevented, which makes increased public awareness about clot-provoked stroke with AFib more crucial than it has ever been before. Heart month provides a prime opportunity for NBCA to share important information about AFib and clot-provoked stroke. To learn more about AFib you can visit the interactive website AFib Town. To learn more about stroke, please visit this Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Fact Sheet.  
AFib & Stroke: What You Need to Know 

Just like knowing your personal risk factors for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE), it is important to recognize if you are at risk for AFib and clot-provoked stroke, and to discuss those risks with your healthcare provider.   

AFib often is the result of damage to the heart or the heart's electrical system commonly due to factors such as uncontrolled high blood pressure or arterial disease. AFib is the most common complication a patient may encounter after heart surgery. 

In addition, you may be at risk for AFib if you are an athlete, drink alcohol (especially binge drinking), have sleep apnea, have a family history of AFib, or have other chronic health conditions often related to the thyroid, diabetes or asthma. While AFib typically affects people who are fifty or older, it can affect younger people too.

Perhaps the most serious complication of AFib is clot-provoked stroke. In fact, AFib patients are nearly five times more likely to suffer a stroke than those without the condition, and AFib-related strokes are nearly twice as fatal and twice as disabling as non-AFib-related strokes.

Know the Warning Signs of Stroke
  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
Seek help immediately or call 911 if you or someone you know experiences any of the warning signs of a stroke. 

Learn more about stroke and the helpful F.A.S.T. way to spot the warning signs by visiting the American Stroke Association here.  

Let's Talk About AFib

Afib is the most common type of irregular heartbeat. When you have AFib, the normal rhythm of your heart becomes irregular, due to disorganized electrical signals. This causes the upper chambers of your heart, called the atria, to beat chaotically. This restricts blood from being efficiently pumped from your heart. When your heart can't pump out blood effectively, the blood can sometimes pool in your heart and form a blood clot.  By itself, AFib is generally not a life-threatening condition, but it can lead to serious medical complications, including clot-provoked stroke. 

In this video, David Garcia, MD, Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology at the University of Washington, and a member of NBCA's  Medical & Scientific Advisory Board of NBCA , discusses atrial fibrillation.

It is important to discuss your risk for AFib with not only your medical team, but your family members as well. If you have AFib, make sure to ask your healthcare provider if you're doing all you can to help reduce your risk of AFib-related or clot-provoked stroke. Only you and your healthcare provider can determine a treatment plan that is best for you.  To reduce the risk of clot-provoked stroke, healthcare providers may prescribe anticoagulants or antiplatelets to help prevent blood clots from forming.

Read more about anticoagulant and antiplatelet therapies here:   American Heart Association, Clot, Not!

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How Many Miles Would You Run to Stop the Clot?

We all know someone who gives it their all. Someone who always turns in a 200 percent performance and goes the extra mile to help their favorite cause or contribute to their preferred charity. 

In Eric O'Connor's case, however, he's willing to go an extra 775 miles to raise funds to support the mission of the National Blood Clot Alliance (NBCA).

Eric, a blood clot survivor and vice president of NBCA's volunteer Board of Directors, will be running 50 kilometers - or 31 miles - every day, for 25 days. 

His fund raising campaign kicks off very soon, on February 18,  and will conclude roughly three weeks later, on March 13.  During that time, Eric will run the Illinois Prairie Path each day, trekking through several suburbs in western Chicago, including, for example, Wheaton, Elmhurst, and Winfield. Along the way, he plans to set a new Guinness World Record too. 

"For me, running is a constant reminder that I can move past previous barriers and push on. It also has given me a goal to focus on after blood clots," Eric explains. "It can be pretty easy to let depression and anxiety take over when recovering. I want to show people that you might feel like you're stuck in a terrible place, but you can make it through. I hope people will hear my story and find hope and motivation."

NBCA appreciates all of the effort that Eric puts into his work with our organization, and we want to thank him many, many times over for the tremendous personal challenge he's now taking on to support our cause and our community.

To follow Eric on his journey over the next few weeks, and to lend your support to Eric's record-setting fund raising efforts, please click here:  #50KaDay.
Community Connection

Living with AFib: Jimmy's Story
Ji mmy McFarland remembers experiencing a racing heart for most of his life, but it wasn't until his late thirties that he was finally diagnosed with AFib . " For a  couple of years, I was paralyzed with fear. I could hardly do anything," he says. Then, Jimmy had a  procedure  - called ablation -  to correct it.  Although this procedure can be risky, Jimmy felt it was necessary in light of his ongoing and sometimes severe anxiety. Read Jimmy's story from Everyday Health to find out how he is doing today.  


You Can Advance NBCA's Mission in Your Community
Interest ed in planning an event to raise funds for NBCA and to support our mission to advance the prevention, early diagnosis and successful treatment of life-threatening blood clots? Now is the time! Let us know by filling out our Interest Questionnaire so that a staff member can contact you to discuss options geared toward your time, interest and resources. You can help bring the mission of the National Blood Clot Alliance to your local  community.

Share Your Story on CrowdRise to Help NBCA
Th ere's no better way to  get involved in Blood Clot Awareness Month this coming March, than to share your personal  blood clot stories. Blood clots  do not discriminate by age, gender, ethnicity or race. They can affect anyone - from infants and young children to teens, young  moms and dads, those i n middle age and senior citizens too. If you're a patient or family member, create your own  CrowdRise page  to share your story, fund raise, and raise awareness to Stop The Clot┬«! Please contact  Caitlin Augustine  for more information and fundraising tips.  

Upcoming Events
The National Blood Clot Alliance has many exciting events coming up all across the country. If we're coming to a city near you, we'd love to see you there!
February 18, 2016 to March 13, 2016 - Wheaton, IL - Eric O'Connor's   50k a day
Sunday, March 6, 2016 - Clarence, NY -   Forever Young Fundraiser in Memory of Paul Englert Jr.
Sunday, March 13, 2016 - Cary, NC -   Allscripts Tobacco Road Marathon
Sunday, March 13, 2016 - Winter Park, FL -  Five Chefs, Five Courses, Five Charities Event

  Get Engaged in Your Community Today

Join the  National Blood Clot Alliance Online Support Group and Discussion Community
a safe and supportive place where you  can inspire and be inspired.

Sign up for free here:   Let's connect

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