Ahead of World Stroke Day  a new report has been released that shows Australia is well behind other countries when it comes to stroke prevention and measures such as atrial fibrillation (AF) screening.

Tanya Hall, founder of Hearts4Heart tells  Dave about some new research which could help prevent stroke


New research by The Economist has revealed a huge global disparity in stroke prevention, unfortunately Australia is at the bottom of the table.

The research1 found 89% of Australians aged 65+ are not being screened for atrial fibrillation (AF) and other common stroke risk factors during routine primary care examinations, even though this population is at high risk for stroke.

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Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and disability around the world, claiming 6.5 million lives per year2. In Australia, stroke is one of Australia’s biggest killers and a leading cause of disability3.

Stroke is up to 80 percent preventable4 AND people with atrial fibrillation (AF) – a known risk factor for stroke – are five times more likely to have a stroke than those without5.

The research comes as experts in Australia campaign for more screening in over 65s. Professor of Cardiology Ben Freedman, University of Sydney, has been vocal in support of more screening of AF to prevent stroke. He participated in the research that examined stroke prevention policies in 20 countries.


Entitled “Preventing Stroke: Uneven Progress” supported by Bristol Myers Squibb and Pfizer, the report conducted an analysis of 20 countries and found that efforts to screen people for stroke risk factors including AF and hypertension varied widely, even in countries with established health care and developed economies.


Stroke is a major health threat with significant clinical and economic impact for patients and for society. Although the risk factors for stroke and the methods to manage them are relatively well-understood, incidences of stroke are still predicted to increase.

The report by The Economist Intelligence Unit considers policy efforts to reduce risks of stroke, and what conditions are necessary for effective implementations. A scorecard rates 20 countries’ performance across different aspects of stroke prevention.


  1. The Economist Intelligence Unit (2017) Preventing Stroke: Uneven Progress. Available: http://perspectives.eiu.com/sites/default/files/Preventing%20Stroke_Uneven%20Progress_1.pdf
  2. Preventing a Stroke. (2016). National Stroke Association. http://www.stroke.org/understand-stroke/preventing-stroke
  3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2016. Australia’s Health  2016. Available: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/australias-health-2016/contents/summary
  4. Wolf PA, et al. Atrial Fibrillation as an Independent Risk Factor for Stroke: The Framingham Study.  Stroke 1991;2:983-988.
  5. Wolf PA, Abbott RD, Kannel WB. Atrial fibrillation: a major contributor to stroke in the elderly. The Framingham Study. Arch Intern Med. Sep 1987;147(9):1561-1564.