Stockholm, Sweden, 29 August 2010: The European Society of Cardiology (ESC) today announces the release of new Clinical Practice Guidelines covering Atrial Fibrillation. These are the first guidelines to be prepared solely by the ESC on this very important topic. Earlier guidelines on Atrial Fibrillation had been prepared collaboratively with the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, but the divergence in practice, drug treatments and the regulatory environment compared with the US have now made it vital to create a European-specific version. The new guidelines will be presented at the annual ESC Congress in Stockholm on 29 August during the Clinical Practice Guidelines session in Zone K, starting at 0935.
Atrial Fibrillation is the most common cardiac arrhythmia condition, affecting over six million Europeans. The main symptom is that, instead of a co-ordinated contraction of the two upper chambers of the heart (the atria), the atrial muscle is activated too quickly and simply quivers instead of contracting. Patients experience palpitations and other symptoms such as breathlessness and fatigue. The condition confers a five-fold increase in the risk of a stroke if left untreated, and then a doubling of the risk of death from that stroke.
The guidelines reflect notable developments in many of the conventional treatments for the condition as well as the very latest techniques to manage it:
- Rate control strategies for patients with permanent atrial fibrillation
- New risk profiling to identify patients at risk of stroke
- Availability of arrhythmic drugs with fewer side-effects
- More specific indications for the use of ablation treatment
- Upstream therapies that can halt the progression of the condition
Professor John Camm of the University of London is a renowned international expert on arrhythmia, and he is also a Fellow of the European Society of Cardiology. He was appointed Chair of the ESC Task Force that developed the highly detailed guidelines. “Atrial Fibrillation has become an epidemic, and we estimate that around 1 to 2 percent of the total population are affected,” he said. “This figure is expected to at least double in line with the demographics of an ageing population because it is particularly prevalent amongst older people. We needed to create up-to-date guidelines because of new drug therapies available, and also because accumulated evidence continuously refines the advice on treatment regimens that give the best outcomes.”
There is a new feature at this year’s ESC Congress – a series of ‘Meet the Guidelines Task Force’ sessions. Practitioners that will be using the Atrial Fibrillation Guidelines, as well as journalists, will be offered the opportunity to have an open discussion and Q&A with Professor Camm and members of the Task Force on Monday 30 August in Zone K, starting at 1315.
The complete Atrial Fibrillation Guidelines document can be downloaded from the ESC website at http://www.escardio.org/guidelines-surveys/esc-guidelines.