Experts have come together to discuss the latest innovations in atrial fibrillation (AF) research and publish a set of agreed clinical and research recommendations.
The paper, which was published in EP Europace in January 2021, summarises the evidence based views which are the outcome of the 7th Consensus Conference of the Atrial Fibrillation NETwork (AFNET) and the European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA) in Lisbon.
International AF specialists, including six from the University of Birmingham, met to identify the most important areas for AF research to focus on, present new data and find consensus on pressing issues in AF prevention, management and future research to improve care for patients with AF and prevent AF-related complications.
Dr Winnie Chua, Post-Doctoral Researcher at the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, University of Birmingham, presented at the conference and discussed some of the key findings from that publication.
The experts highlighted the emerging importance of assessing cognitive difficulties in patients with AF who might notice reduced abilities to think, recall, or make decisions - and how it might impact their daily lives.
The experts also highlighted and reinforced the importance of lifestyle changes such as exercise and diet to reduce the risks of AF. New approaches to treating patients who have both AF and heart failure were some of the key recommendations from the publication.
The experts call for the cooperation of all scientists to combine data which is collected worldwide. All clinicians and patients are highly encouraged to participate in research studies and contribute to a systematic collection of high-quality data to improve research findings.
The search for biomarkers in AF also needs to be intensified and combined with genetic data and available information in healthcare systems to identify different groups of patients with AF.
More improvement is needed to ensure equal access to care to reduce health inequalities as large differences exist between patients (e.g. less treatment options for elderly women), as well as between treatment centres (e.g. availability of therapy options).