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Barry Manilow Urges Americans to “Get Back in Rhythm™” and Learn About All the Health Risks of Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)

National AFib Education Campaign Launches to Help Improve the Care of People with This Serious and Increasingly Prevalent Form of Irregular Heartbeat

New York, NY, September 13, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Music icon Barry Manilow today revealed his long struggle to manage a serious heart disease called atrial fibrillation (AFib). He has joined with Sanofi US to kick-off Get Back in Rhythm™, a national education campaign to raise awareness about AFib, and to encourage people to learn more about all the risks of AFib and the importance of keeping the heart in rhythm.

Today, approximately 2.5 million Americans have AFib1 and that number is expected to grow to 12 million by 2050.2 A serious heart disease that causes the heart to race and beat out of rhythm,3 AFib can lead to permanent heart damage,4 heart attack,5 heart failure,5 stroke5 and death.6

“When I first experienced AFib more than 15 years ago, it was really scary — it felt like a fish flopping around in my chest,” said Manilow. “I thought I knew about all the risks, but it turns out I didn’t, so I was really lucky I had such great doctors helping me manage it from the start.”

AFib is a complex disease and many patients may not recognize the symptoms or the full range of health risks associated with it.7 This is why Manilow encourages those affected by AFib to visit www.GetBackInRhythm.com, to test their AFib knowledge with the Rhythm IQ quiz, learn more about all the risks of the disease and print a guide that can help make the most of visits with healthcare providers. The campaign will also include a public service announcement featuring Manilow to help raise awareness about AFib. Attendees of Manilow’s September 14 concert at the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C. will be among the first to view the PSA, which will be on display as they enter the venue lobby.

“At first, I kept my AFib private because I didn’t want to acknowledge there was something wrong with my heart. But now I realize a lot of my fans and so many others could be affected, so I want to do all I can to help them take it seriously, understand all the risks of AFib and seek the best care,” admits Manilow. “The bottom line is AFib needs more awareness. Patients need more education. No one should settle for a life out of rhythm.”

Heart Rate and Rhythm Important in AFib Treatment
In patients with AFib, the upper chambers of the heart beat out of rhythm with the lower chambers of the heart.3 This can cause a change in the shape and size of the heart, a process known as remodeling. Remodeling can take place after only a short time out of rhythm, and a remodeled heart can become less efficient at pumping blood, making it work harder and harder over time.4 When the heart remains out of rhythm, remodeling is progressive and can become permanent.4

Three of the primary goals of managing AFib, as defined in current American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology and Heart Rhythm Society AFib management guidelines are: getting your heart back in rhythm, slowing a racing heart rate and preventing stroke.6 Unfortunately, many people are unaware if their AFib management plan is designed to do all three.

“There is a lot of confusion out there about AFib, its risks and how to manage it. For example, many people with AFib know it increases their risk for stroke, but many don’t realize that there are many other risks associated with the heart being out of rhythm,” said Marcus Wharton, M.D., Frank P. Tourville Professor of Medicine and Director of Cardiac Electrophysiology at the Medical University of South Carolina. “Some people think just because they take multiple medications for AFib, they are fully managing the disease, but often that is not the case. This is why people need to educate themselves and engage in ongoing discussions with their healthcare providers about their AFib management plan.”

Get Back in Rhythm AFib Educational Campaign
The goal of Get Back in Rhythm is to improve the health and well-being of those affected by AFib. The campaign encourages people to learn more about all the risks of AFib, and talk with their healthcare provider about how to maintain a normal heart rhythm and manage the disease. GetBackInRhythm.com offers a collection of resources including the Rhythm IQ to test AFib knowledge, an AFib Risk Assessment tool and a discussion guide to help patients make the most of their visits with their healthcare providers. In addition, visitors can learn about AFib patient and singer/songwriter Barry Manilow’s personal experience living with AFib and see what he’s doing to help others “get back into rhythm.”

More about Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)
AFib primarily affects people over the age of 65 and the risk of getting AFib increases as people age.1 As the “Baby Boomer” generation gets older, it is estimated that 12 million Americans will have AFib by the year 2050.2 In addition to age, other conditions may increase the risk for developing AFib including high blood pressure,3 heart disease,3 obesity,6 diabetes,8 drugs (alcohol, other stimulants)6 and surgery.6 AFib often requires more than one type of treatment to manage symptoms and health risks.

While 30 percent of people with AFib do not feel any symptoms,9 others may experience pounding or fluttering in their chest (palpitations), shortness of breath, weakness and anxiety or fear about what is happening.3 Even when a person does not experience symptoms, AFib can lead to permanent heart damage,4 heart attack,5 heart failure,5 stroke5 and death.6

About Sanofi US
Sanofi US, also referred to as Sanofi-aventis US, is part of Sanofi, a global and diversified healthcare leader, which discovers, develops and distributes therapeutic solutions focused on patients’ needs. Sanofi has core strengths in the field of healthcare with seven growth platforms: diabetes solutions, human vaccines, innovative drugs, rare diseases, consumer healthcare, emerging markets and animal health. Sanofi is listed in Paris (EURONEXT: SAN) and in New York (NYSE: SNY).

References

1Go, A. Prevalence of Diagnosed Atrial Fibrillation in Adults: National Implications for Rhythm Management and Stroke Prevention: The AnTicoagulation and Risk Factors in Atrial Fibrillation (ATRIA) Study. JAMA, 2001; 285(18): 2370-2375

2Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atrial Fibrillation Fact Sheet, http://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fs_atrial_fibrillation.htm. Last accessed June 8, 2011.

3Shea, J. A Patient’s Guide to Living with Atrial Fibrillation. Circulation. 2008; 117e340-343. Available at http://circ/ahajournals.org/cgi/content/full/117/20/e340. Last accessed July 14, 2011.

4Van Gelder, I., et al. The progressive nature of atrial fibrillation: a rationale for early restoration and maintenance of sinus rhythm. Europace. 2006; 8: 943–949.

5Stewart, S. A population-based study of the long-term risks associated with atrial fibrillation: 20-year follow-up of the Renfrew/paisley study. Am J Med. 2002; 113:359-364.

6Fuster, V. 2011 ACCF/AHA/HRS Focused Updates Incorporated Into the ACC/AHA/ESC 2006 Guidelines for the Management of Patients With Atrial Fibrillation: A Report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Circulation. 2011; 123: e269-e367.

7Aliot, E. An international survey of physician and patient understanding, perception, and attitudes to atrial fibrillation and its contribution to cardiovascular disease, morbidity, and mortality. Europace, 2010; 12(5): 626-633.

8Benjamin, EJ, Levy, D, Vaziri, SM, et al. Independent risk factors for atrial fibrillation in a population-based cohort. The Framingham Heart Study. JAMA. 1994;271:840-4.

9Savelieva, I. “Clinical relevance of silent atrial fibrillation: prevalence, prognosis, quality of life, and management.” J Interv Card Electrophysiol, 2000; 4(2): 369-382

Videos

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Barry Manilow – Living with Atrial Fibrillation
Barry Manilow – Living with Atrial Fibrillation

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