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'AFib Educator' app and widget offers patient dialogue tool for complex cardiovascular disease

March 22, 2010 Washington, D.C. AF Stat a collaboration of healthcare leaders and organizations working to improve the health and well-being of people affected by atrial fibrillation (AFib) today unveiled the "AFib Educator," a smartphone app and desktop widget to help healthcare practitioners better explain the risks and consequences of the disease to their patients.

The most common form of heart arrhythmia, AFib affects approximately 2.5 million Americans, and its prevalence is expected to increase as the U.S. population ages . AFib is associated with a five-fold increase in risk for stroke ; worsens underlying cardiovascular disease ; and doubles the risk of all-cause mortality .

Despite the far-reaching impact of AFib, many healthcare professionals lack the tools to explain the disease and its potential consequences to patients. In fact, a 2009 Yankelovich survey found that 42 percent of physicians reported having to use their own drawings to guide patient discussions about AFib, while more than half of nurses report using their hands to describe AFib .

"When you explain blood flow in a coronary artery to patients, they can visualize problems such as a blockage, but it is difficult for most patients to understand the normal electrical flow of impulses through the heart. This is magnified many times over when trying to comprehend the complexities of AFib," said Eric Prystowsky, M.D., AF Stat Medical Chair and Director of the Clinical Electrophysiology Laboratory, St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis. "Until now, healthcare professionals have lacked sophisticated tools to educate their patients about AFib. The AFib Educator offers information that can help patients better understand AFib and develop a sense of urgency about managing it."

The AFib Educator provides a dynamic resource that demonstrates how the heart should look under normal rhythm, and how it performs during AFib. Featuring detailed, animated diagrams of the human heart, fluoroscopy (x-ray) animations, and electrocardiogram (EKG) demos, the AFib Educator helps healthcare professionals clarify the risks associated with AFib, and shows patients specifically how it impacts the heart's performance.

The application also provides healthcare professionals with other resources to share with patients, including facts about the signs, symptoms, prevalence and risks of AFib; links to resources where patients can learn more about AFib; and an "e-mail a friend" feature, which enables healthcare professionals to e-mail background information directly to patients. Patients and caregivers can then share the information to others with or at risk for AFib.

"Having been diagnosed with AFib, I know how the experience can be confusing and overwhelming for a new patient," said Mellanie True Hills, founder of "An educated patient is an empowered patient, and the AFib Educator is exactly the kind of patient-friendly, visual tool that can make this complex condition less frightening."

Recent research indicates that healthcare professionals as well as medical students are increasingly looking towards smartphone technology for their professional needs. Manhattan Research reports that 54 percent of all physicians own a PDA or a smartphone. Among them, 83 percent use the devices for professional purposes, and 65 percent state that they believe that the devices are essential to their practices. Furthermore, 73 percent of physicians who own a PDA or smartphone expressed a desire for more applications tailored for their specialty. Of note, cardiologists were among the group of specialties most likely to express this thought.


Contact: Tom Murphy
Chandler Chicco Agency

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