Healthcare: On the agenda - Drug could help irregular heartbeat

- In a nutshell

Patients suffering from an irregular heartbeat could benefit from a new drug that is easier to administer than the current treatment, according to a study.

- The research

A global study, led by the University of Edinburgh and Duke University,North Carolina, compared the effects of warfarin, the standard treatment to prevent blood clots in people with an irregular heartbeat, with rivaroxaban.

- Why is it important?

About 800,000 people in the UK have an irregular heartbeat, which can lead to the formation of blood clots, significantly increasing the risk of a stroke. In the study, rivaroxaban was found to be as effective as warfarin in reducing the risk of stroke, which can be four to six times higher in patients with an irregular heartbeat. However, rivaroxaban does not need to be so closely monitored as warfarin, nor the dose adjusted.

- PR strategy

All media outreach in the UK was handled in-house by the University of Edinburgh's press and PR team. A press release was sent out on 9 August under embargo until 10pm on 10 August. The release was also posted on the eurekalert website, which is accessed by international health and science correspondents.

- Media coverage

Widespread print coverage on 11 August included articles in the Daily Mail, Daily Express, Scotsman and Daily Mirror, as well as online by the BBC and the Telegraph. International coverage included the Los Angeles Times.

800k - Number of people in the UK who suffer from irregular heartbeats

14k - Number of patients with irregular heartbeats who took part in the survey

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