AF Information for Clinicians
The AF Association’s new AF White Paper — Put People First calls for people with, or at risk of developing, atrial fibrillation (AF) to be at the centre of decision-making. Each person with AF has individual needs and wants, and these must be considered at every step of the process of managing AF, from prevention to treatment. In the AF White Paper, therefore, the AF Association advocates that people should be Put First in the context of its “PREVENT, DETECT, PROTECT, CORRECT, PERFECT” strategy. Furthermore, the AF Association raises awareness that there are worrying signs that the COVID-19 pandemic has indirectly led to a decrease in the detection of AF and this, consequently, could lead to an increase in AF-related strokes. However, the charity also believes that the pandemic has prompted positive as well as negative changes. Therefore, in the AF White Paper, it outlines that we need to learn the lessons from the “New Normal” of the pandemic.
Call to Actions
Opportunities should be taken during any healthcare professional contact — whether this is at the primary, secondary, or tertiary care level — to provide guidance, information, and support to optimise lifelong cardiovascular health and, thus, PREVENT AF.
DETECT AF with a simple Pulse Check, or digital technologies, to PROTECT against AF-related stroke using anti-coagulation therapy (not aspirin), heart failure, dementia, and poor quality of life. Any contact with a person aged 65 or older is an opportunity to DETECT AF. This can be in the form of a medical contact with a healthcare professional or in a non-healthcare community setting.
PROTECT against AF-related stroke using anti-coagulation therapy (not aspirin); direct oral anti-coagulants should be the first-line therapy. People with AF must be involved in the choice of anti-coagulant therapy.
CORRECT the irregular rhythm with access to appropriate treatment. Reducing risk factors for cardiovascular disease, soon after a diagnosis of AF, is an important part of improving outcomes for people with AF.
PERFECT the patient care pathway by having the person with AF at the centre of integrated care. The focus should be on the person with AF rather than the AF itself.
AF Association will be regularly reviewing and updating the AF White — Put People First to ensure it has the latest information. A revised version, therefore, will be released later this year following the publication of the 2021 National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) AF Guidance.
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common sustained arrhythmia (an irregular heart rhythm), affecting 2–4% of the world’s population. In England alone, approximately 1.5 million people have been diagnosed with the condition (2.5% of the population) and, according to data from Public Health England, a further 300,000 are undiagnosed. While the risks associated with AF do depend on the type and a person’s individual characteristics, the greatest concern is the risk of AF-related stroke. Without anti-coagulation, a person with AF may be five times more likely to have an ischaemic stroke than someone without AF. For more information, visit our What is Atrial Fibrillation page