The World Heart Federation, sanofi-aventis and Boehringer Ingelheim have announced their collaboration on the AF AWARE (Atrial Fibrillation AWareness And Risk Education) campaign today, to raise awareness of atrial fibrillation (AF) and its links to severe consequences including cardiovascular (CV) mortality, stroke and CV hospitalizations. The campaign aims to promote education around the risks associated with AF as well as highlight the importance of early diagnosis and comprehensive management to maximize patient outcomes.

"AF is a growing public health issue, affecting not only the patients who live with the condition, but also their families and the healthcare systems in the countries where they live. Yet research shows there is a perceived lack of awareness and understanding of this condition," said Johanna Ralston, Chief Executive Officer, World Heart Federation. "The AF AWARE campaign was established to specifically address the lack of awareness and endeavours to draw attention to this serious, chronic, disease, the consequences of which can have devastating effects on patients and healthcare systems."

"Despite the fact that the complications of AF can be severe, for many people living with AF, the condition has very little noticeable impact on their lives, and in some cases goes undiagnosed and untreated, resulting in strokes that could be prevented. Up to three million people worldwide suffer strokes related to AF each year, with half of patients dying within 12 months," said Klaus Dugi, Corporate Senior Vice President Medicine, Boehringer Ingelheim. "We are delighted to support the AF AWARE campaign in 2011, as it is critical that effective action is taken now for individuals living with AF and their families, to ensure the optimal management of the condition, reducing the number of strokes related to AF."

A recent report found that the lives of thousands of people living with AF could be at risk due to delay in time to diagnosis, poor adherence to treatment guidelines and lack of information for patients suffering from this debilitating heart condition.[i] People living with AF have a lower quality of life than healthy individuals,[ii].[iii] as AF is also frequently associated with multiple CV co-morbidities which can adversely affect a patient's long-term outcomes. AF carries a four- to five-fold increased risk of stroke and is associated with a high risk of CV events [III] and hospitalization. Using data from 10,000 AF patients, the REALISE AF registry showed that about 29% of AF patients had a CV event leading to unplanned hospitalization in the last 12 months .[iv]

"Atrial fibrillation is a major cause of morbidity and mortality which contributes to a substantial public health burden" said Nazira Amra, M.D., Associate Vice President, Global Anti-Arrhythmics Strategy, sanofi-aventis. "Sanofi-aventis has been supporting AF AWARE since its inception and we are delighted to continue this global initiative in collaboration with the World Heart Federation and Boehringer Ingelheim in order to raise AF awareness and promote better access to information for patients, their caregivers and health care providers."

The World Heart Federation will lead the initiative internationally and will also work closely with SAFE (Stroke Alliance for Europe) and the Atrial Fibrillation Association (AFA), to deliver the programme. Agreements have been established with sanofi-aventis and Boehringer Ingelheim for a co-sponsorship.

The activities of the AF AWARE campaign are supported by funding from both sanofi-aventis and Boehringer Ingelheim.

About Atrial Fibrillation (AF)

AF results from abnormal electrical activity in the upper chambers of the heart (atria), leading to an irregular heart rhythm which prevents the blood from efficiently being pumped toward the rest of the body.[v] Common symptoms of AF include palpitations (a rapid, irregular, "flopping" movement or pounding sensation in the chest), shortness of breath, dizziness and feeling of heaviness in the chest.[vi] Age, obesity, hypertension, myocardial infarction (MI), congestive heart failure (CHF) and valvular heart diseases [vii] put patients at increased risk of developing AF and AF itself worsens the prognosis of patients with risk factors for cardiovascular diseases such as stroke or myocardial infarction. [Vi],[viii]

About the AF AWARE campaign

The AF AWARE (Atrial Fibrillation AWareness And Risk Education) campaign dedicated to gaining greater recognition of atrial fibrillation (AF) as a major international public health concern through exposing current misperceptions of the condition and focusing attention on the realities of the disease. The campaign calls for urgent steps to be taken to improve the diagnosis and care of patients with AF and the prevention of associated cardiovascular conditions. AF AWARE was launched in 2009 by the World Heart Federation, the Stroke Alliance For Europe, the Atrial Fibrillation Association and the European Heart Rhythm Association. Initially supported by a sponsorship from sanofi-aventis, it is now also supported by Boehringer Ingelheim.

References

[i] Barham, L. Atrial Fibrillation in Europe: How AWARE are you?, November 2010, last accessed here, 09.02.11

[ii] Dorian P et al. The impairment of health-related quality of life in patients with intermittent atrial fibrillation: implications for the assessment of investigational therapy JACC, 2000;36:1303-1309. Last accessed here, 07.02.2011

[iii] PA Wolf, RD Abbott and WB Kannel. Atrial fibrillation as an independent risk factor for stroke: the Framingham Study. Stroke 1991;22;983-988. Last accessed here, 07.02.2011

[iv] Steg G. Realise AF cross sectional registry. ESC 2010, Last accessed here, 09.02.11

[v] The Task Force for the Management of Atrial Fibrillation of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC), Guidelines for the management of atrial fibrillation, European Heart Journal (2010) 31, 2369-2429. URL

[vi] Benjamin E.J. et al., Impact of Atrial Fibrillation on the Risk of Death: The Framingham Heart Study. Circulation 1998;98:946-952

[vii] Benjamin E.J. et al., Prevention of atrial fibrillation: report from a National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute workshop. Circulation 2009;119(4): 606-618

[viii] Wachtell, K. et al., Angiotensin II receptor blockade reduces new-onset atrial fibrillation and subsequent stroke compared to atenolol, Journal of the American College of Cardiology 2005;45(5):712-719

Source:
World Heart Federation
Sanofi-aventis
Boehringer Ingelheim

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