Despite recent advances in the treatment of heart rhythm disturbances, mortality and morbidity rates associated withy atrial fibrillation (AF) remain "unacceptably high", according to a new report. The report, prepared jointly by the German Competence Network on Atrial Fibrillation (AFNET) and the European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA), will be published at the EHRA EUROPACE 2011 congress in Madrid from 26-29 June. AF, says the report, is emerging as "the new epidemic" in cardiovascular disease.
According to the report, improvements in the management of AF can be achieved by several synergistic steps: the detection and better management of risk factors, good clinical use of new antithrombotic therapies, early detection of any new arrhythmia, and timely rhythm control treatment.
Identifying risk factors
The report lists the validated risk factors for AF as age, male gender, hypertension, valve disease, heart failure, diabetes, coronary artery disease and genetic factors. While age is one of the key risk factors for AF, genetic factors play a major role when AF occurs at young ages. Similarly, while male gender is strongly associated with "incident" AF, female gender is a risk factor for stroke in patients with established AF.
However, less validated and emerging risk factors have also been found in obesity, height (with relative risk rising markedly with 10 cm increments in height), sleep apnoea, excessive alcohol consumption, excessive endurance sports, smoking and chronic obstructive lung disease, and kidney disease.
The report recommends that analysis of several cardiac biomarkers - particularly natriuretic peptides - can help refine the assessment of AF risk. With genetic factors most closely associated with AF in the young, genetic biomarkers - indicative of genetically derived cardiomyopathies - may also help assess AF risk.
However, many of the determinants of AF risk remain "elusive", and the repo
|Contact: Jacqueline Partarrieu|
European Society of Cardiology