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World Heart Federation launches global Roadmap to tackle Atrial Fibrillation

A new Roadmap to tackle Non-Valvular Atrial Fibrillation (AF), the most common and clinically significant form of cardiac arrhythmia, has been launched today by the World Heart Federation (WHF).

The initiative aims to help prevent AF and to improve its management worldwide. The Roadmap comes as new figures show the number of people with AF continues to rise.

Between 1990 and 2013 the overall number of diagnosed cases globally increased from below 7m to just over 11m. The findings are likely to underestimate the true scale of AF because of the large number of people who do not know they have the condition. The morbidity burden associated with AF, as measured by disability-adjusted life years, also continues to grow.

David Wood, President Elect of the World Heart Federation, said: “A substantial proportion of non-valvular atrial fibrillation goes undetected because there are no symptoms. Undetected AF increases the risk and severity of stroke and heart failure and is linked to high costs incurred by individuals, healthcare systems and economies across the world.

“Our Roadmap identifies areas where improvements can be made that will lead to better management of AF on a global scale, especially in low and middle income countries where research suggests patients tend to be younger and more likely to experience heart failure.”

The AF Roadmap is part of a wider WHF Roadmap Initiative supporting the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Action Plan Targets which aim to reduce premature deaths from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) including cardiovascular disease (CVD) by 25% by 2025.

The Roadmaps aim to reduce CVD and related conditions by providing guidance on interventions that can be adapted according to country or region. Previous Roadmaps have focused on secondary prevention, tobacco control and hypertension.

There is strong evidence that early detection and treatment of AF can reduce morbidity and mortality. The World Heart Federation’s Roadmap for Non-Valvular Atrial Fibrillation identified potential roadblocks on the management of patients for Atrial Fibrillation and proposed potential solutions for overcoming the existing barriers:

  • Improving accessibility and availability of screening for rural populations
  • Improving the affordability of oral anticoagulants (OACs)
  • Reducing dependence on highly trained medical staff for AF management
  • Improving capacity for management of OACs therapy among patients
  • Strengthening Health Information Systems.