The AF AWARE (Atrial Fibrillation Awareness And Risk Education) campaign today, at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress 2011 in Paris, announces the launch of the Atrial Fibrillation in Primary Care (AFIP) tool, developed to help primary care physicians (PCPs) with early diagnosis and optimal management of patients with atrial fibrillation (AF).
AF is a progressive and chronic disease and the most common sustained abnormal heart rhythm, with over six million people currently affected in Europe. In the next 50 years, the prevalence is estimated to at least double, making it an urgent public health concern due to its links to serious cardiovascular (CV) consequences, including stroke and other CV complications, frequently leading to hospitalization.
"Research has demonstrated variability in following AF management guidelines, potentially putting the lives of thousands of AF patients at risk and leading to an increased burden on healthcare systems", said Professor John Camm, Professor of Clinical Cardiology, St George's University, London, UK - and co-author of the AFIP tool. "The availability of new therapies will likely encourage the management of AF in primary care, where early and opportunistic screening could ultimately prevent severe consequences of AF for patients."
To address the global public health concern, the AF AWARE campaign convened a group of international experts to develop the AFIP tool, which helps bring PCP practice closer to AF management guidelines. The AFIP tool is a resource that helps PCPs identify high-risk patients and diagnose AF earlier, guides PCPs through the first steps of AF management and provides advice for referral to a cardiovascular specialist.
"Early diagnosis of AF reduces the risk of life threatening events/ serious complications", commented Professor Gregory Lip, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Birmingham Centre for Cardiovascular Sciences, City Hospital, Birmingham, UK - and co-author of the AFIP tool. "The AFIP tool addresses a previously unmet need to support PCPs in identifying AF patients early and helping them to use existing management guidelines most effectively."
PCPs play a crucial role in the identification of AF patients, but operate in time-limited settings, which may contribute to a difficulty in diagnosing AF and in the ongoing management of the condition. Dr Carlos Brotons, Head of the Research Unit, Sardenya Primary Health Care Centre, Sant Pau Biomedical Research Institute, Barcelona, Spain - and co-author of the AFIP tool, added: "Primary care physicians often need to refer to lengthy guidelines for the management of multiple conditions. The AFIP tool provides physicians with the key information they need from the AF management guidelines, supporting them in providing timely and optimal care for their patients."
Healthcare professionals (HCPs) can download the AFIP tool to use at www.AF-AWARE.org, the new website for the AF AWARE campaign, providing the latest information and resources for people living with AF, their caregivers, HCPs, the general public and media.
The AF AWARE campaign, dedicated to gaining greater recognition of AF and its impact as a major international public health concern, sought the input and involvement of international experts to develop the AFIP tool, including cardiologists, primary care physicians, patient and professional organizations:
- Professor John Camm, Professor of Clinical Cardiology, St George's University, London, UK
- Professor Gregory Lip, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Birmingham Centre for Cardiovascular Sciences, City Hospital, Birmingham, UK
- Dr Carlos Brotons, Head of the Research Unit, Sardenya Primary Health Care Centre, Sant Pau Biomedical Research Institute, Barcelona, Spain
- Professor Kathryn Taubert, Chief Science Officer, World Heart Federation, Geneva, Switzerland
European Society of Cardiology