Atrial Fibrillation symposium in Kuwait focuses on tackling the new age epidemic

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  • One in four adults over the age of 40 are at risk of developing Atrial Fibrillation²
  • AFiB condition affects 40mn people worldwide; predicted to rise further by 2030³

Kuwait: The first-of-its-kind multidisciplinary Atrial Fibrillation [AFiB] Symposium in Kuwait called for a focused dialogue and the need to augment additional resources to support the education and detection campaigns on the life-threatening Atrial Fibrillation condition that impacts nearly 40 million people globally

The symposium, organized at The Regency Convention Center Kuwait City represents a collaboration between Dr. Samah AlKharji, Heart Rhythm Specialist Head of Department of Cardiology at Dabbous Cardiac Center, Adan Hospital, and Biosense Webster ME – part of Johnson & Johnson MedTech Family of Companies, which brought together over 75 participants representing different cardiac specialties to discuss ways to tackle AFiB.

AFiB is the most common type of cardiac arrhythmia and about one in four adults over the age of 40 are at risk of developing AFiB² Despite these projections, many people in the region and beyond are unfamiliar with AFiB symptoms, available treatment options, and the importance of early treatment to avoid disease progression.

The symposium in Kuwait, which took place recently, was organized as part of the AFiB Awareness Month and focused on addressing the epidemic which has doubled in prevalence in the past decade and is predicted to rise further by 2030.³ The objectives of the AFiB Awareness Month are focused on generating awareness, improving knowledge and encouraging better detection of the condition.

Leading General Practitioners (GPs), internal medicine specialists, cardiologists and electrophysiologists, interventional cardiologists, haematology, neurology, and pulmonology experts attended the symposium and shared their knowledge on the importance of early detection, risk factors, treatment options, guidelines for managing AFiB as well as the resources for both healthcare professionals and patients to support education and detection.

Dr. Samah AlKharji, Heart Rhythm Specialist and Head of Department of Cardiology at Dabbous Cardiac Center, Adan Hospital: “We are seeing more cases of Atrial Fibrillation as its prevalence increases with age, affecting one in four people over 40, and this rise is partly due to ageing population. However, we are also seeing a higher prevalence of risk factors for developing AFiB, such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity. The AFiB Awareness Month aims to detect cases of AFiB at an earlier stage to avoid serious complications such as stroke, giving our patients the potential for better health outcomes.“

“We need to work together as a community to tackle the challenge of AFiB, now recognized as a major public health condition with high comorbidity and increased mortality. Cardiologists, together with General Practitioners, play a vital role in supporting patients through the pathway to early diagnosis, intervention and optimal management. That is why providing a platform to share important scientific information, newest guidelines and tools is essential to enhance early referral and effective care to counter AFiB.”

Early diagnosis and intervention are key to optimal and prompt treatment to reduce both the patient burden and the impact of AFiB on healthcare resources. The burden of AFiB needs to be tackled by a multi-disciplinary approach that involves patients, GPs, cardiologists and electrophysiologists, working together to support the treatment pathway.

Doaa Ebada, Business Unit Director of Cardio Vascular and Specialty Solutions ME – part of Johnson & Johnson MedTech Family of Companies, said: “For over 20 years, Biosense Webster has led the science of diagnosing and treating heart rhythm disorders. We have partnered with clinicians to develop innovative technologies that improve the quality of care for arrhythmia patients worldwide and we remain committed to the cause. We can all work together to tackle the condition head-on and heal more hearts. We are proud to be the be the partners in such scientific symposium in Kuwait to support better knowledge and action about AFiB.

AFiB can cause debilitating symptoms such as breathlessness, palpitations and chest pains which may significantly impact patients’ quality of life. ³,⁷ It also increases the risks of more serious conditions such as heart failure and stroke and can also result in sudden death.³,⁹ Up to 30% of all strokes are AFiB-related and are often more severe, or even fatal, than non-AFiB related strokes.³,⁹.

‘Silent AFiB’, where the patient experiences no apparent symptoms, affects up to 30% of people and remains a clinical challenge. ⁷,¹⁰ These cases need to be uncovered either through health screening or through a patient’s own pulse check. AFiB is then confirmed by a physician, most commonly through an Electrocardiogram (ECG) test.

When AFiB is diagnosed there is a range of management and treatment options available which also include stroke prevention therapies, heart rate and rhythm control drugs. Non-drug intervention, using catheter ablation, has become a more widely performed procedure to prevent recurrent AFiB¹²

 

Catheter ablation is a safe and effective procedure to restore the heart’s incorrect electrical signals, which causes abnormal heart rhythm.¹³ The quality of life has been shown to improve after catheter ablation compared to drug treatment for AFiB.¹⁴ Among patients with symptomatic AFiB, catheter ablation, compared with medical therapy, led to clinically important and significant improvements in quality of life at 12 months.¹³  In addition to potentially improving well-being, the procedure can reduce several life-threatening conditions associated with AFiB, including stroke. ³These findings can help guide decisions regarding management of AFiB.