Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is teaming up with Princeton-based Bristol Myers Squibb and Pfizer to raise awareness of atrial fibrillation, or AFib, and its symptoms as part of the No Time to Wait campaign.
In support of the campaign, the basketball legend will share his experience with AFib, including what led to his diagnosis, and encourage others to speak to a health care professional if they are having symptoms.
Most common symptoms of AFib include irregular heartbeat, heart racing, chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue and lightheadedness.
“When I first started to experience symptoms like shortness of breath and lightheadedness, I dismissed them until they reached a point where I could no longer ignore them, and I ended up in the hospital where I was diagnosed with AFib,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “I’ve joined the No Time to Wait campaign with Bristol Myers Squibb and Pfizer because I want my experience to help others understand the symptoms of AFib. Health is nothing to play around with. I hope my story can help motivate others to speak with a health care professional if they are experiencing symptoms.”
Approximately 9.5 million people in the U.S. are projected to have AFib in 2023; however, many people remain undiagnosed, dismissing their symptoms because they can come and go and can vary.
Because AFib increases the risk of stroke by about five times, it is important for individuals to seek medical attention if they are experiencing these symptoms. Only a health care professional can determine whether symptoms indicate AFib or another condition.
“In my experience, I have seen many patients ignore or dismiss their symptoms, potentially delaying diagnosis and treatment,” Dr. Andrea Russo, cardiologist and academic chief in the division of cardiology and director of cardiac electrophysiology and arrhythmia services at Cooper University Health System in Camden, said.
People can visit NoTimetoWait.com to learn more about Abdul-Jabbar’s diagnosis journey, as well as common AFib symptoms and how to prepare for a medical appointment.