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Matter of Moments: Recognizing AFib-Stroke Risk

AFib Fast Facts:

  • Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, is a common type of an irregular heartbeat.2
  • During AFib, the upper chambers of the heart quiver (fibrillate) and do not pump all of the blood to the lower chambers, causing some blood to pool, potentially causing clots to form.10 If the clot breaks loose it can travel to the brain and lead to a stroke.2
  • The prevalence for AFib increases with age. About 9% of people aged 65 years or older have AFib.3
  • In addition to advancing age, risk factors for AFib include having diabetes and having high blood pressure.4
  • Some people living with AFib have no symptoms; those who do show signs may experience symptoms such as palpitations, chest pain and fatigue.3
  • A healthcare professional can identify an irregular heartbeat by checking a patient’s pulse or listening to their heart with a stethoscope. An electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) may be used to detect and confirm the presence of AFib.9

Millions of Americans live with a common type of irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation (AFib).1,2 In fact, in 2018 approximately 7.5 million people in the U.S. are projected to be affected by AFib.1 However, some of these people won’t know they have it until it is discovered by a healthcare provider, because the condition can have no symptoms.3 The prevalence of AFib increases with age, with those 65 and older being at greatest risk – roughly 9% of people in this age group have the condition.3 Some additional risk factors for AFib include diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease (e.g., congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, prior heart attacks).4

Why is awareness of AFib and its risk factors so important? Because those with AFib have a five times greater chance of stroke than those without the condition.5,6 And strokes related to AFib are more likely to be severe than non-AFib-related strokes.6,7


Through Matter of Moments, the BMS-Pfizer Alliance aims to elevate awareness of not only the AFib-stroke connection but also the importance of timely AFib diagnosis, specifically in patients 65 years and older. The lives of those affected by AFib-related stroke, and those of their family and friends, may be impacted in a matter of moments. Common effects of a stroke include a range of physical, psychological and emotional consequences that can alter their daily lives, and the lives of their loved ones.8 AFib can also be detected in a matter of moments as part of routine medical care.9 The Alliance, through Matter of Moments, aspires to raise awareness of AFib-stroke risk and the importance of diagnosis by convening and working together with expert physicians and advocacy organizations.

During routine medical care, healthcare professionals can identify irregular heartbeats by checking patients’ pulses or listening to their hearts with stethoscopes. An electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) may be used to detect and confirm the presence of AFib.9


The BMS-Pfizer Alliance believes the moment has arrived to bring these issues to the forefront and work together to dig deep into this health challenge.


  1. Colilla S, et al. Estimates of current and future incidence and prevalence of atrial fibrillation in the U.S. adult population. Am J Cardiol. 2013;112:1142–1147.
  2. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. Atrial Fibrillation. June 2014. Available at:
  3. CDC, Atrial Fibrillation Fact Sheet.
  4. Heart Rhythm Society. Risk Factors for Atrial Fibrillation. Accessed August 2018
  5. Wolf PA, Abbott RD, Kannel WB. Atrial fibrillation is an Independent Risk Factor for Stroke: The Framingham Study. Original Contributions. April 1991.
  6. 2014 AHA/ACC/HRS Guideline for the Management of Patients With Atrial Fibrillation.
  7. Lin HJ, Wolf PA, Kelly-Hayes M, et al. Stroke severity in atrial fibrillation. The Framingham Study. Stroke. 1996 Oct;27(10):1760-4.
  8. American Stroke Association. Let’s Talk About Stroke: Changes Caused by Stroke Fact Sheet. Available at:
  9. Shea JB, Sears SF. A Patient’s Guide to Living with Atrial Fibrillation. Circulation. 2008;117:e340-e343. Available at:
  10. American Heart Association. Why Atrial Fibrillation (AF or AFib) Matters. Available at: