Four leading patient and medical associations have announced the formation of AF AWARE (Atrial fibrillation awareness and risk education), a joint initiative to highlight and address issues that contribute to the growing burden of atrial fibrillation (AF) worldwide.
Marking the start of World Heart Rhythm Week, the World Heart Federation (WHF), Atrial Fibrillation Association (AFA), Stroke Alliance For Europe (SAFE), and European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA) have come together to call upon their peers around the world to raise awareness and understanding of atrial fibrillation and its cardiovascular complications, such as stroke.
Results from an AF AWARE international survey of more than 1,600 cardiologists and patients in 11 countries, confirm that patients need a better understanding of atrial fibrillation, its consequences and management options.
Despite the nature and risks of atrial fibrillation, one in four patients in this survey said he or she did not understand and could not explain what AF is and only a third were worried or fearful about having the disorder. Patients indiscriminately rated all risks of complications as high and confirmed the significant impact of AF on their quality of life and ability to conduct day to day activities.
“Very few people truly understand the real and significant impact of atrial fibrillation,” said Günter Breithardt, from the WHF. “There is an urgent need for better information for patients. AF AWARE aims to expose the poor understanding of this complex disease and to help healthcare professionals, patients, policy makers and the general public understand that comprehensive management of AF should address its multiple impacts.”
The majority of cardiologists (61%) in the survey said their patients needed more and better information on atrial fibrillation: they rated the quality of patient education materials for AF as inferior to that available for other common cardiovascular diseases, heart attack, hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes and stroke.
“AF patients need much better information about their disease and doctors can play a central role in providing this help,” said Professor Vardas, president-elect of EHRA. “These results indicate that AF patients may feel resigned about living with this illness and its complications. World Heart Rhythm Week and AF AWARE are opportunities for us to come together to improve patients’ experience of living with AF through awareness and education.”