Arrhythmias can be harmless – most cases are. But many are serious – even life-threatening. Atrial fibrillation (AFib or AF) is one of the latter, and it’s also the most common type of arrhythmia diagnosed in clinics, accounting for around 37.5 million cases globally. And those are just the cases detected – experts suggest up to half of AFib sufferers remain undiagnosed.
This presents a substantial challenge. Because ageing populations and the success of medical science at increasing survival rates actually make survivors more susceptible to arrhythmia. In short, the cardiovascular mortality and morbidity of AFib is fast becoming a worldwide epidemic and public health burden (recently exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic).
The answer? Well, treatment. But before that – awareness.
That’s why 6-12 June 2022 is World Heart Rhythm Week.
Many people living with AFib symptoms like shortness of breath, irregular or fast heartbeat, shortness of breath, sweating, lightheadedness or fainting (syncope or near-syncope) are unaware that they could be at serious risk of stroke or heart failure.
READ: Remote Monitoring of Cardiac Arrhythmias Using Wearable Digital Technology: Paradigm Shift or Pipe Dream?
Importantly, awareness helps lead to early detection and diagnosis, making it possible to start patients on anticoagulation therapy and prevent AFib-related complications – and theoretically, help to ease an impending epidemic and improve or save the lives of millions.
Trudie Lobban MBE, Founder and Trustee of Arrhythmia Alliance, explains the critical role of World Heart Rhythm Week:
“World Heart Rhythm Week is an annual catalyst for healthcare professionals, patients, caregivers and the public, to join forces and raise awareness of arrhythmias around the globe. It is an opportunity for collaboration and partnership as we all work towards improving the lives of those living with heart rhythm disorders.”
Professor John Camm, President of Arrhythmia Alliance, adds:
“Each year, World Heart Rhythm Week provides an opportunity for us all to raise … greater awareness amongst both the public and healthcare professionals can lead to earlier diagnosis and ultimately better care for patients with arrhythmic conditions.”
This year, the key message is ‘Get to the HEART of…’. As a collaboration between Arrhythmia Alliance, AF Association and STARS, each has a statement with a slightly different awareness focus:
- Arrhythmia Alliance: Get to the HEART of Arrhythmias
- AF Association: Get to the HEART of Atrial Fibrillation
- STARS: Get to the HEART of Syncope
Trudie Lobban MBE explains that the “… key message ‘Get To The HEART Of…’ shines a spotlight on educating everyone on the importance of being heart rhythm aware; to improve services and access to treatments and to get to the heart of the matter.”
WATCH: Professor Jose Merino on the Highlights from EHRA 2022
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