The AF Stat: Call to Action for Atrial Fibrillation to serve as a roadmap for reducing the burden of atrial fibrillation (AFib) in the United States was today released by a diverse collaboration of healthcare leaders.
The document outlines critical issues surrounding the management of AFib, and recommends priority actions in the areas of policy, management, education and quality.
"For far too long, AFib has flown under the radar of many healthcare professionals, policymakers and the public," said Senator Bill Frist, M.D., former Senate Majority Leader and health policy advisor for AF Stat. "AFib disproportionately affects Medicare patients, yet the disease's impact on both individuals and our healthcare system has never been fully defined or prioritized."
Characterized by an irregular and frequently fast heartbeat, AFib is the most common form of heart arrhythmia. It 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 .
The disease is also expensive, costing the nation approximately $6.65 billion annually, much of which could be attributed to the increased hospital in-patient, emergency and medical services utilization rates for people with AFib . A report released today by Avalere Health, Medicare and Atrial Fibrillation: Consequences in Cost and Care references research estimating that costs associated with AFib may be as high as $15.7 billion5 per year, further reinforcing the need to prioritize AFib.
The report describes the burden of AFib on Medicare, and offers strategies to enhance quality of care, improve patient outcomes and reduce healthcare costs associated with the disease. The report was prepared and funded as an outcome of AF Stat, a first-of-its-kind, national initiative that aims to elevate understanding, diagnosis and management of AFib among all those affected by this serious and increasingly prevalent cardiovascular disease. AF Stat Call to Action for Atrial Fibrillation Key Insights
The AF Stat Call to Action provides recommendations for four priority actions to reduce the burden of atrial fibrillation:
- Policy and Advocacy - Educate and inform key stakeholders about the health risks associated with AFib and the importance of comprehensive management.
- Education - Make tools available for all AFib stakeholders to facilitate greater understanding about its risks and the need for comprehensive early management, and to heighten awareness of the disease.
- Management - Achieve accurate diagnosis and comprehensive management across medical practices and between medical specialties.
- Quality - Define best practices in AFib management, align clinical practice guidelines and implement performance measures to improve patient outcomes.
"Historically, there has been a disappointing lack of urgency to change the status quo surrounding AFib," said Eric Prystowsky, M.D., AF Stat Medical Chair and Director of the Clinical Electrophysiology Laboratory, St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis. "This Call to Action provides key public health directives that can motivate change and improve the understanding and management of AFib."