September 14, 2022 — In recognition of Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) Awareness Month, Biosense Webster, Inc., part of Johnson & Johnson MedTech†, released findings from an AFib PulseCheck Survey that reveals AFib patient behaviors and their understanding of AFib treatment options. It also sheds light on how the AFib at-risk population (adults 55+) understands AFib symptoms and disease progression.
AFib is the most common type of cardiac arrhythmia and impacts nearly 40 million people worldwide1, and 6 million people in the U.S. alone2. The U.S. cases are expected to increase to 16 million by 2050. 3 Today, about 1 in 4 adults over the age of 40 are at risk for developing AFib. 4 Despite these projections, many people are unfamiliar with AFib symptoms, available treatment options and the importance of early treatment to avoid disease progression.
The PulseCheck Survey explored awareness and understanding of AFib among two groups of U.S. adults. The first included AFib patients 18 years and older, to understand the specific behaviors connected to living with AFib among the diagnosed population. The second surveyed adults 55 and older, those defined as possible at-risk due to their age alone, to gauge their understanding of AFib awareness.
Among adults diagnosed with AFib, survey responses revealed that more than a quarter live with fears and anxiety about the progressive nature of the disease, but in many cases lack a sense of urgency to treat following their initial AFib diagnosis. In fact, responses revealed:
One-third are fearful of having a stroke, heart failure or blood clot. However, a quarter of patients did not get their AFib treated immediately after diagnosis, and 44% of patients have ended up in the emergency room due to their AFib.
AFib patients feel they are informed of their treatment options (91%) and most (80%) say their doctor has discussed these options with them. Almost all are aware of blood thinners (99%) and medications (95%), and a majority are aware of lifestyle changes (82%). However, only slightly more than half are aware of catheter ablation (57%) and cardioversion (55%) procedures.
The survey revealed adults 55 years and older have a general awareness of AFib, though it's not top of mind when they visit the doctor themselves. Insights include:
More than half (57%) responded they are aware of AFib with a third revealing they know someone who has been diagnosed. A fifth said they are a caregiver to someone with AFib.
After being shown a description of risk factors and symptoms of AFib, 58% of adults 55+ considered themselves to be at risk.
Even though half of adults believe they may be at risk for developing AFib, only a fifth (18%) say their doctor has discussed AFib with them, and only 10% have ever proactively spoken to their doctor about it. Two-fifths of adults 55+ say they never thought to ask their doctor about AFib (41%) and didn't think their doctor considered them to be at risk (40%).
After an AFib diagnosis, there are multiple treatment options available to patients. Medication is often the first step. If medication is not effective in treating AFib, the cardiologist will often refer patients to an electrophysiologist (EP) who will suggest other treatment options, such as catheter ablation.
"Once an AFib patient is referred to an EP, we work together with their physician or cardiologist to discuss their current patient pathway," said Dr. Dhanunjaya Lakkireddy, electrophysiologist and the medical director for the Kansas City Heart Rhythm Institute at HCA Midwest Health. "Once it is determined that medications aren't an effective form of treatment, we discuss other options such as catheter ablation to help the patient return to their life before AFib."
Catheter ablation is a safe and effective procedure to restore the heart's incorrect electrical signals, which causes abnormal heart rhythm5. Quality of life has been shown to improve after catheter ablation compared to drug treatment for AFib6. 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.5 In addition to potentially improving well-being, the procedure can reduce several life-threatening conditions associated with AFib, including stroke. These findings can help guide decisions regarding management of AFib.
For more information: www.getsmartaboutafib.com
TRUE Global Intelligence, the in-house research practice of FleishmanHillard, fielded an online survey among n=101 AFib patients 18 years of age and older as well as n=1,000 general public adults 55 years of age and older in the U.S. from January 19–February 1, 2022.
† Johnson & Johnson MedTech comprises the surgery, orthopaedics, vision and interventional solutions businesses within Johnson & Johnson's MedTech segment.
1 Lippi G, Sanchis-Gomar F, Cervellin G. Global epidemiology of atrial fibrillation: An increasing epidemic and public health challenge. Int J Stroke. 2021 Feb;16(2):217-221. doi: 10.1177/1747493019897870. Epub 2020 Jan 19. Erratum in: Int J Stroke. 2020 Jan 28;:1747493020905964. PMID: 31955707.
2 Mody BP, Raza A, Jacobson J, Iwai S, Frenkel D, Rojas R, Aronow WS. Ablation of long-standing persistent atrial fibrillation. Ann Transl Med. 2017 Aug;5(15):305. doi: 10.21037/atm.2017.05.21. PMID: 28856145; PMCID: PMC5555980.
3 Miyasaka Y, Barnes ME, Gersh BJ, Cha SS, Bailey KR, Abhayaratna WP, Seward JB, Tsang TS. Secular trends in incidence of atrial fibrillation in Olmsted County, Minnesota, 1980 to 2000, and implications on the projections for future prevalence. Circulation. 2006; 114:119–125. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.105.595140.
4 Lloyd-Jones DM, Wang TJ, Leip EP, Larson MG, Levy D, Vasan RS, D'Agostino RB, Massaro JM, Beiser A, Wolf PA, Benjamin EJ. Lifetime risk for development of atrial fibrillation: the Framingham Heart Study. Circulation. 2004 Aug 31;110(9):1042-6. doi: 10.1161/01.CIR.0000140263.20897.42. Epub 2004 Aug 16. PMID: 15313941.
5 Natale A, Reddy VY, Monir G, Wilber DJ, Lindsay BD, McElderry HT, Kantipudi C, Mansour MC, Melby DP, Packer DL, Nakagawa H. Paroxysmal AF catheter ablation with a contact force sensing catheter: results of the prospective, multicenter SMART-AF trial. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2014 Aug 19;64(7):647-56.
6 Mark DB, Anstrom KJ, Sheng S, Piccini JP, Baloch KN, Monahan KH, Daniels MR, Bahnson TD, Poole JE, Rosenberg Y, Lee KL, Packer DL; CABANA Investigators. Effect of Catheter Ablation vs Medical Therapy on Quality of Life Among Patients With Atrial Fibrillation: The CABANA Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2019 Apr 2;321(13):1275-1285. doi: 10.1001/jama.2019.0692. Erratum in: JAMA. 2019 Jun 18;321(23):2370. PMID: 30874716; PMCID: PMC6450275.
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