Health leaders issue recommendations to improve AF management


A diverse collaboration of healthcare leaders released on 16 September 2009 the AF Stat Call to Action for Atrial Fibrillation to serve as a roadmap for reducing the burden of atrial fibrillation (AF) in the US. The document outlines critical issues surrounding the management of atrial fibrillation, and recommends priority actions in the areas of policy, management, education and quality.

“For far too long, AF has flown under the radar of many healthcare professionals, policymakers and the public,” said Senator Bill Frist, former Senate Majority Leader and health policy advisor for AF Stat. “AF disproportionately affects Medicare patients, yet the disease’s impact on both individuals and our healthcare system has never been fully defined or prioritised.”

The costs the US approximately US$6.65 billion annually, much of which could be attributed to the increased hospital in-patient, emergency and medical services utilisation rates for people with AF. A report released by Avalere Health, Medicare and Atrial Fibrillation: Consequences in Cost and Care references research estimating that costs associated with AF may be as high as US$15.7 billion per year, further reinforcing the need to prioritise AF.

The report describes the burden of AF on Medicare, and offers strategies to enhance quality of care, improve patient outcomes and reduce healthcare costs associated with the disease. The report was prepared and funded as an outcome of AF Stat, a first-of-its-kind, national initiative that aims to elevate understanding, diagnosis and management of AF among all those affected by this serious and increasingly prevalent cardiovascular disease.

AF Stat Call to Action for Atrial Fibrillation key insights

The AF Stat Call to Action provides recommendations for four priority actions to reduce the burden of atrial fibrillation:

  • Policy and advocacy – Educate and inform key stakeholders about the health risks associated with AF and the importance of comprehensive management.
  • Education – Make tools available for all AF stakeholders to facilitate greater understanding about its risks and the need for comprehensive early management, and to heighten awareness of the disease.
  • Management – Achieve accurate diagnosis and comprehensive management across medical practices and between medical specialties.
  • Quality – Define best practices in AF management, align clinical practice guidelines and implement performance measures to improve patient outcomes.

“Historically, there has been a disappointing lack of urgency to change the status quo surrounding AF,” said Eric Prystowsky, AF Stat medical chair and director of the Clinical Electrophysiology Laboratory, St Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis. “This Call to Action provides key public health directives that can motivate change and improve the understanding and management of AF.”

To further help determine what actions to tackle first, AF Stat invites anyone affected by, or interested in AF to go to to rank recommended priority actions.

The recommendations presented in the AF Stat Call to Action were compiled through interviews and meetings with members of AF Stat – a collaboration of 24 organisations and individuals representing the advocacy, medical, government, professional, aging, caregiver, employer, payer and cardiovascular sectors. Together, AF Stat aims to elevate understanding, diagnosis and management of AF among all parties affected by the disease. AF Stat is sponsored by Sanofi-Aventis US, which provided funding for this report.