Showcasing the best practice in AF

Showcasing best practice in AF – charity publishes new report to mark the start of Global AF Aware Week: Published today, The AF Association Healthcare Pioneers Report – Showcasing Best Practice in AF 2022, marks the start of Global AF Aware Week (15-21 November 2021). This new report illustrates how healthcare professionals have found new and innovative ways to improve care and quality of life for people with, or at risk of, atrial fibrillation (AF) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic has had a devastating effect on AF clinical services in all regions of the UK. Waiting lists for AF procedures have doubled, with some lists now two years long. The number of AF ablations have dramatically dropped, with the latest Hospital Episode Statistics showing pre-pandemic figures of approximately 10,000-11,000 AF ablations (UK and Ireland), with numbers now at 7000-8000 per year – a decline of 30% from pre-pandemic levels. AF is the most common type of arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythm disorder) worldwide, affecting about 2-4% of all adults. It causes significant mortality and morbidity, with the risk of AF-related stroke being the greatest concern. If not receiving anticoagulation therapy, a person is five times more likely to have a stroke than someone without AF. AF-related strokes are more often debilitating and fatal than strokes of other causes.

Through Global AF Aware Week, AF Association promotes the key messages of the need to DETECT AF with a simple pulse check, PROTECT against AF-related stroke with anticoagulation therapy, CORRECT the irregular rhythm with access to appropriate treatments, in order to PERFECT the patient care pathway.

The AF Pioneers report outlines how healthcare professionals have been finding ways to DETECT, PROTECT, and CORRECT in a COVID-19 safe manner. AF Pioneers Lord et al demonstrates how to DETECT AF (using single-lead ECGs) in people attending COVID-19 vaccination centres. Given that after a vaccination many people must rest for 15 minutes before leaving the centre, there is ample opportunity to perform a pulse check without interrupting or delaying the vaccination process. Grayson et al used telephone consultations (alongside audit data) to ensure people with AF were appropriately anticoagulated while remaining COVID-19 safe.

Mrs Trudie Lobban MBE, Founder and CEO of AF Association, says: “The COVID-19 pandemic has had an overwhelming impact on AF clinical services during the last 18 months. We applaud the 2022 AF Pioneers for their efforts to improve care and quality of life for people with AF, and very much hope this report will inspire healthcare professionals to explore new approaches for detecting and managing the condition.”

Professor A John Camm (BHF Emeritus Professor of Clinical Cardiology, St George’s University of London, UK), Trustee and Co-founder of AF Association, comments:

“The report provides examples of how new technologies can be used to address the challenges of COVID-19. However, the report also shows that focusing on the individual wants and needs of people with AF is the cornerstone of good patient care and this is possible even in the context of COVID-19.”

A a copy of the report can be downloaded from www.AFPioneers.org.

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