Experts recommend screening for Atrial Fibrillation to reduce risk of stroke and death

New afib research from Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, demonstrates the importance of screening for atrial fibrillation.

Screening for asymptomatic atrial fibrillation (AF or afib) in people aged 65 and over and treating it with anticoagulant medications could prevent many thousands of strokes worldwide each year, says a top-level panel of experts in today’s issue of Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association.

About 10 percent of ischemic strokes are caused by AF that is first detected at the time of stroke. Asymptomatic AF which underlies these strokes is not uncommon and can be easily detected by simply taking the pulse, or by handheld ECGs that provide a diagnosis in less than a minute.

Statistics from the World Heart Federation show 15 million people have a stroke each year, nearly six million die, and another five million are left permanently disabled.

“Widespread screening for asymptomatic atrial fibrillation in people aged 65 years and above could cost-effectively reduce strokes and their associated disability, and help save lives,” says Hills. “However, this is not yet widely recommended in guidelines.

The White Paper calls for governments worldwide to introduce screening for all older people, at age 65 or possibly older. Programs could be run through GPs, pharmacies, or in the community, and could be carried out with pulse checking, a blood pressure monitor or, ideally, a handheld ECG device, the best tool for rapidly offering a firm AF diagnosis.

Hand-held device for afib monitoringAfibAlert® is one such handheld device that gives instant feedback with medical-grade accuracy and is FDA cleared for clinical and in-home uses. Find out more about how AfibAlert® provides quick and accurate screening in any type of environment.

The White Paper, Screening for Atrial Fibrillation, A Report of the AF-SCREEN International Collaboration, has 60 contributing authors: Circulation May 9th 2017 issue 19; Vol 135

Read the full article at stopafib.org >

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Preexisting Conditions Proven Riskier with Atrial Fibrillation

The first clinical research case-study of its kind found that patients with heart failure (HF) to be more at risk of death if diagnosed with AF, the American Journal of Medicine reported.

“Risk factors with the largest population attributable fractions of death within 90 days were heart failure (15.0%), malignancy (12.2%), and hypertension (11.4%). For example, assuming a causal relationship, if heart failure were eliminated, 15% of the deaths within 90 days would have been avoided,” according to the joint Mayo Clinic and Olmsted Medical Center case-study.

No up-to-date information about associated mortality risks for AF patients had yet to be conducted before this report, which aimed to set a baseline for the occurrence of atrial fibrillation (AF) in a 10-year period for a specific population.

The study focused on 3,344 Olmsted County, Minnesota, residents diagnosed with AF or atrial flutter from the years 2000 to 2010. Looking for both the prevalence of AF and survival rates among participants, researchers compared Olmsted residents’ data with correlating U.S. general population demographics.Medical examination

The analysis found that the incidence of AF in Olmsted remained stable, which was consistent with similar studies conducted by the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (ARIC) and Medicare beneficiaries during similar periods.

“A dramatic excess risk of death was observed within the first 90 days after atrial fibrillation diagnosis,” while survival during this time did not improve from 2000 to 2010, researchers concluded. Additionally, AF was shown to be riskier for patients with certain preexisting conditions.

“Current smoking status, prior myocardial infarction, heart failure, diabetes, chronic pulmonary disease, liver disease, dementia, hemiplegia/ paraplegia, and cancers.” By tracking both instances of occurrence and survival rates of AF patients, researchers hoped to “provide contemporary insights into the atrial fibrillation epidemic.”

Atrial fibrillation—a quivering, or irregular heartbeat— was originally deemed a rising epidemic in the late 1990’s as the graying of America started to take effect. The risk of developing AF increases dramatically with age and will have serious public health ramifications, as the U.S. is expected to have 6-12 million cases by 2050, according to The Lancet independent medical journal.

By Sydney Ellis
Sources: New England Journal of MedicineThe American Journal of MedicineInternational Journal of CardiologyThe LancetCardiology News
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Cardiac Care Post-Event

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By Sydney Ellis
Adapted from: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, The Society of Thoracic Surgeons, WebMD, American Heart Association, WebMD
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Special Holiday Discount!

final-holiday-promo

This holiday season Lohman Technologies is bringing back its special promotional discount on its best-selling product…

The original AfibAlert cardiac self-monitoring device–included with a 1-year warranty, web access, and customer support– originally retailing at $299 is now available for only $199!

Take advantage of this holiday special here, or view our other products here.

*limited quantities available  **price reduction only available December 2016

Graphics by Sydney Ellis
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New Study Associates Heart Attacks & Kidney Failure with Atrial Fibrillation

Patients, healthcare providers and payers now have more to be concerned with regarding health-insurance-medical-tourism-770x477atrial fibrillation (Afib) diagnoses. Increased risk of heart attack and kidney failure are now being associated to having an irregular heartbeat, according to an analysis of 104 studies spanning nine million people by the University of Oxford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The new study shows that atrial fibrillation has been found to increase the risk of death by 46 percent, ischemic heart disease by 61 percent, chronic kidney disease by 64 percent, sudden cardiac death by 88 percent, and major cardiac events by 96 percent. Oxford and MIT also found atrial fibrillation patients to be five times more likely to experience congestive heart failure, and additional correlations between Afib and underlying risk factors for cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and sleep apnea.

Atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat, is one of the most common types of cardiac arrhythmias, affecting over 6 million Americans annually. Afib typically occurs in the elderly population and has been rising as the primary or related cause of death for the past 20 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Anticoagulants, a type of blood-thinning medication, have been the focus of healthcare providers and the most widely used way to treat atrial fibrillation patients in recent years. A prescriber’s goal for anticoagulants is to keep the heart in a stable rhythm, reducing the chance of further complications related to remaining in a prolonged state of cardiac irregularity.

Although these blood-thinning medications have been shown to reduce the risk of stroke, the Oxford-MIT study reports that anticoagulants show “little reduction in mortality related to congestive heart failure and sudden cardiac death… It could be that rhythm control treatments might not have been effective at treating atrial fibrillation or that the treatments resulted in additional side effects that outweighed the benefits.”

The new side effects related to atrial fibrillation found by the Oxford-MIT joint study calls for healthcare systems to switch their primary focus to preventing and managing cardiovascular risk factors in Afib patients for non-stroke related events, as stroke is no longer of the upmost risk or concern for atrial fibrillation patients.

Although stroke used to be the most pressing risk-factor for atrial fibrillation patients, Oxford and MIT’s study revealed many, more pressing, related medical conditions. This new study raises important questions in the medical community about how healthcare systems treat atrial fibrillation patients and could have lasting implications for Afib research and public healthcare funding.

By Sydney Ellis
Sources: The British Medical Journal, The Telegraph, British Heart Foundation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

 

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Afib Impacts Healthcare Systems

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5 Ways to Enjoy Summer with Afib!

Whether you’re having fun in the sun at a faraway destination or trying to keep cool at home, safety is always a priority if you have atrial fibrillation.  Keep your Afib in check by following these helpful hints to ensure you enjoy the most out of your summer!

  1. Keep to Your Regular Medication Schedule

Although the summer season drives us to relax in the sun and adventure outdoors, sticking to your regular medication schedule is one of the best ways to make sure your cardiac rhythms are regulated.  If you’re traveling, bring a little extra in addition to your normal dosage of your medication just in case, and don’t forget you’re portable AfibAlert home-monitoring device!  AfibAlert gives medical grade EKG readings to ensure that your atrial fibrillation is in check, giving you peace of mind to have fun in the sun instead of frequenting the hospital all summer.

  1. Get Your Steps In!

Summer’s warm weather makes it so much easier to get outside! To reduce your risk of blood clots and stroke partake in some light physical activity to keep active and increase blood flow. If you’re taking a plane to your travel destination make sure to stretch your legs and drink lots of water, high altitudes can exacerbate heart arrhythmias so taking the necessary precautions can help ensure you have a safe and relaxing flight.

  1. Join the Hydration Nation

Warm temperatures and UV exposure during the summer months can increase the effects of dehydration, a known trigger for Afib and heart arrhythmias.  Follow the 8×8 rule (8x8oz cups) to help get your daily recommended water intake!  Keep in mind that nothing replaces water as a hydrating agent, so instead of going right for that second drink have a glass of water in-between to stay hydrated, healthy, and to keep your Afib in check.

  1. Know Your Info

Knowing and being able to communication information about your medical condition is imperative when living with Afib, and is especially important when traveling.  If you’re on vacation this summer make sure you have your primary care physician’s contact information on hand, are aware of medical centers near your destination, and know your medication dose, type and frequency in case of emergency.  You may want to consider wearing a medical ID bracelet to clearly identify your medical condition and make sure to update your ICE (In Case of Emergency) contacts to ensure your safety in a new environment.

  1. Eat, Drink & Be Merry, In Moderation

Don’t get lackadaisical with your heart healthy diet!  Stick to healthy foods and drink lots of fluids in higher temperatures and while on vacation.  Take advantage of this season’s produce and stock up on local fruits and veggies; they’re chock-full of vitamins and minerals, low-sodium and high in fiber content which helps fuel your body and kick start your metabolism.  Although we all love a piña colada by the pool, excessive alcohol intake can exacerbate cardiac symptoms, so regulate and hydrate!

Adapted from WebMD, MAYO Clinic & Everyday Health

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New “Pill in Pocket” Approach for Afib Treatment

A new study into treating atrial fibrillation by Dr. Francis Marchlinski and colleagues found that patient’s self-monitoring their cardiac rhythms through a smartphone app may be a promising new alternative to taking blood-thinning medication.

The study had patients monitor their pulse twice daily for 18-months, and only had patients take blood-thinners when experiencing, or were suspected of experiencing atrial fibrillation.  94% of study participants maintained their self-monitoring treatment in lieu of anticoagulant medications.  If you would like to learn more about the study’s research process and results, click here.

Dr. Francis Marchlinski, Director of Electrophysiology at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, wanted to find a non-pharmaceutical way to regulate atrial fibrillation (Afib) because current medications used to treat this condition, while effective, can have problematic side effects.

A patient in Afib experiences heart-arrhythmias, which slow the flow of blood through the heart and increases the risk of blood clots and stroke.  The go-to method for reducing risks brought on by Afib has been anticoagulants—blood-thinning medications— but long-term usage of these drugs can put patients at a higher risk of bleeding that can turn something as simple as a paper-cut into a much larger problem.

“If you don’t need [blood-thinning medications] continuously, it’s reasonable to try to avoid them as much as possible,” Marchlinski said.

Of the 100 research participants, nine used a portable device to check their cardiac rhythms.  Self-monitoring devices are becoming a more widely-available option when treating cardiac arrhythmias by helping to keep recurring emergency room visits low and giving peace of mind to users.

Although, Marchlinski’s “as-needed” approach when taking blood-thinning medications isn’t for all atrial fibrillation patients.

“This potential strategy for intermittent use is only intended for patients with electrocardiogram-demonstrated control of atrial fibrillation, who have undergone an extended period of monitoring, and who are avid pulse-takers that can recognize their atrial fibrillation if it occurs… In other words, it’s a very select group of highly motivated patients,” Marchlinski said.

More research into the use of self-monitoring for atrial fibrillation must be conducted before being considered a widely accepted treatment option for Afib patients, but Marchlinski’s pilot study show promising results.

Please consult your physician before making any changes to your current medication and healthcare routines.

Adapted from U.S. News & World Report

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Personal Medical Technology Devices Usher in New World of Cardiac Care

Cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death for men and women, is progressively being managed by new medical technology, specifically heart rhythm monitoring devices. These hand-held electrocardiogram (EKG) monitors are growing in the industry, allowing anyone to get results from the comfort of their own home.

Dr. Robert Baker, a cardiologist with Nevada Cardiology Associates, states the importance for patients over the age of 40 to self monitor. Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a major stroke risk especially for those over 40, who have an increased risk of 1 in 4 of developing Afib.

These self monitoring devices are beneficial for patients with cardiac issues as well as health-conscious people who would like to stay on top of their heart health. Those with a family history may be especially concerned with developing a heart problem down the line, so home monitoring devices put any concerns to ease.

This is a summary of an article written by Media Plant: Future of Personal Health.

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Self monitoring for stress-free traveling

Traveling in general can be a stress inducing activities. Making deadlines, remembering to pack everything and reassuring everyone is having a good time can be difficult. Traveling with AFib is a whole other story. On top of the traveling stress, your heart health is particularly important. Managing your stress levels and enjoying the vacation is possible! For a fun, relaxing vacation follow these tips for traveling with AFib to make the most out of your trip!

Before Travel

1. Medications

Before you leave, make sure all of your heart medications are fully stocked and packed. If possible, take some extra to avoid not having enough in the result of lost belongings.

2. Medical Alert Bracelet

If you do not already have one, purchase a medical bracelet and wear it on your trip. It should list your condition, medications and contact information in the instance of an emergency.

3. Self-Monitoring Device

If you are traveling with Afib, considering taking a self-monitoring device with you for peace of mind in case you think you are having an event. A device such as AfibAlert (link) is very portable and gives instant feedback so you know whether or not you need medical attention very quickly and reliably.

During Travel

1. Security

If your trip requires flying, or any type of security checkpoints, make sure to notify security. Going through metal detectors can disrupt pacemakers and other medical devices. Ask for a pat down instead.

2. Get up and stretch

Whether it’s a long car ride or a flight, getting up and stretching your legs is recommended. With AFib, you are at a higher risk for blood clots. Remaining sedentary for too long can increase this risk even more. Walking up and down the aisle of the planes every few hours or taking an extra stop on a car ride is a good idea.

3. Hydrate

Dehydration can trigger Afib symptoms. Avoid dehydrating liquids such as caffeine and alcohol and remember to drink lots of water.

After your arrival

1. Schedule

Being overtired can trigger Afib symptoms. Try to remain to a normal sleep schedule as much as possible.

2. Avoid exhaustion

Both physical and mental exhaustion can increase risk of an Afib episode. Be active, but know your limits to physical activities.

3. Enjoy yourself

Traveling can be a wonderful experience and shouldn’t be inhibited by your Afib condition. Enjoy yourself on vacation, know your boundaries and overall remember to relax


Sources:

Web MD, Atrial Fibrillation Travel Tips

Everyday Health, Travel Tips for Atrial Fibrillation

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