Globally impactful atrial fibrillation research showcased in Healthcare Pioneers report

Professor Gregory Lip and colleagues have been selected as one of this year’s Atrial Fibrillation Association’s Healthcare Pioneers. Their research works on ‘The NIHR Global Health Research Group on AF management: Defining AF care in Brazil, China, and Sri Lanka’ and ‘Smart technology facilitated early diagnosis and integrated care of atrial fibrillation: the mAFA programme’ have been highlighted in the AF Association Healthcare Pioneers Report: Showcasing best practice in AF 2021.

The two atrial fibrillation (AF) projects address different challenges in the field of cardiovascular science, with a particular focus on AF.

The first project focused on implementing good practice in detecting and treating AF in disadvantaged communities where the main causes of the condition (hypertension and diabetes) are so often overlooked. The second project successfully investigated how wearable smart technology can help detect AF early, and when followed by a structured holistic approach to AF care, could reduce the chance of stroke and other cardiac complications (especially hospital admissions) particularly in the elderly population.

Atrial Fibrillation 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. Left untreated, a person with AF may be up to five times more likely to have a stroke than someone without AF.  Furthermore, AF-related strokes are devastating — 20% of people die and 60% become disabled — and are often worse than strokes related to other causes. Also, as AF can be asymptomatic, many people do not discover that they have AF until they have had an AF-related stroke.

Each year, the Healthcare Pioneers Report showcases the most innovative approaches to detecting and managing atrial fibrillation (AF). The aim is to provide models of best practice that other centres, across the globe, can adapt to improve the care and quality of life with people with AF.

Professor Lip, who is Price-Evans Chair of Cardiovascular Medicine and Director of the Liverpool Centre for Cardiovascular Science commented: “I am honoured that our research work has been recognised, and that we are making a difference to the care of AF patients in Brazil, China, and Sri Lanka.

“In addition, we are introduced innovative mobile health solutions to AF care, and validated an integrated approach to AF management, that is now the recommended management approach in new international guidelines issued by the European Society of Cardiology.”

Mrs Trudie Lobban MBE, Founder and CEO of AF Association says: “Despite great progress in the detection and management of AF, the need to identify people with undiagnosed AF remains critical. We need to ensure that all people with AF receive the appropriate antithrombotic therapies to Protect against AF-related stroke and have access to the right treatments to correct the irregular rhythm. Therefore, we publish the AF Association Healthcare Pioneers Report: Showcasing best practice in AF 2021 to highlight leading centres that have established innovative and positive advances in the diagnosis and management of AF.” She adds that the AF Association is grateful to all those who submitted case studies for the report this year and congratulates “the 11 winners who demonstrate excellent good clinical practice and the development of AF services to improve patient outcomes and quality of life”.

Professor John Camm, St George’s University of London, comments: “The Healthcare Pioneer Report initiative encourages healthcare professionals to showcase their best examples of recent developments in the health care of patients with AF. This global disease has reached epidemic proportions and we all need to pick up good methods of caring for people with this heart rhythm disturbance. When you read the report, you will appreciate the wide range of opportunities and solutions that have been described. Well done to all of you who submitted your ideas and on how they have worked out in practice.”

The AF Association Healthcare Pioneers: Showcasing Best Practice in AF 2021 was launched as part of Global AF Awareness Week (16–22 November).

View the Healthcare Pioneers Report 2021: Showcasing best practice in AF report.