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Atrial Fibrillation Research Alert: New Study Shows Increased Hospitalizations and Lifelong Risks

A recent study published in the European Heart Journal has shed light on the long-term consequences of Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)[1]. This large scale research, conducted by the University of Queensland’s Faculty of Medicine, highlights the importance of managing AFib as a chronic condition and taking steps to improve patient outcomes.

Understanding AFib

AFib, also known as AF, is the most common heart rhythm disorder, affecting millions of people worldwide. It occurs when the upper chambers of the heart (atria) beat irregularly and out of sync with the lower chambers (ventricles). This can lead to a number of complications, including stroke, heart failure, and even death.

New Study Raises Concerns

The study examined data from over 260,000 patients in Australia and New Zealand who were hospitalised for AFib or atrial flutter between 2008 and 2017. The mean age of patients was 70.5 (+/-14.4) years.

The findings paint a concerning picture:

  • AFib was associated with a reduction in life expectancy of 2.6 years on average. The greatest impact on life expectancy was a reduction of 3.4 years in people aged 35-49 years.
  • Re-hospitalisation rates were high for additional AFib episodes. Over a 10-year period, recurrent AFib episodes were likely – 21.3% by one year, 35.3% by five years and 41.2% by 10 years.
  • Re-hospitalisation rates were high for other significant conditions as well – within 10 years, 16.8% were hospitalised with heart failure, 11% with stroke and 7.1% with myocardial infarction.
  • Underutilisation of Catheter Ablation – only 6.5% of people had an atrial fibrillation ablation within 10 years. This may represent an underutilised therapy which has significant potential to improve health outcomes for people with AFib.
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The Atrial Fibrillation Institute is a Centre of Excellence for AFib Management

At the Atrial Fibrillation Institute, we understand the critical role catheter ablation can play in improving long-term outcomes for patients with AFib. Our team of highly experienced cardiac electrophysiologists (EPs) – specialists in diagnosing and treating heart rhythm disorders – are skilled in performing various ablation techniques to address AFib.

Our specialists also recognise the importance of educating patients well about living with AFib, which is why we’ve have developed a unique online education program for our patients.

Taking Charge of Your Heart Health

The findings of this study underscore the importance of seeking expert care for AFib management. Here at the Atrial Fibrillation Institute, we are committed to providing you with:

  • Early diagnosis and intervention: Identifying AFib early allows for prompt treatment and risk factor management.
  • A long-term view of AFib management: AFib is a chronic condition that requires ongoing monitoring and management – the treatment strategies may change over time.
  • A comprehensive treatment approach: We explore all available treatment options, including medications, lifestyle modifications, and procedures to create a personalised plan for you.
  • Patient education: Empowering you with knowledge about AFib, its risks, and how to manage your condition is crucial for successful long-term management.

Working Together for a Brighter Future

While this study focused on patients in Australia and New Zealand, the reality of AFib’s impact is felt globally. At the Atrial Fibrillation Institute, we are dedicated to providing our patients with the latest treatment options and guidance to manage AFib effectively.

We encourage you to:

  • Talk to your GP about your risk factors for AFib.
  • Schedule regular checkups to monitor your heart health.
  • If diagnosed with AFib, seek a consultation with a Cardiac Electrophysiologist, like those at the Atrial Fibrillation Institute (via referral from your GP) to discuss all treatment options, including catheter ablation.
  • Become an active participant in your own healthcare.

Our team of expert cardiac electrophysiologists is here to help you understand your condition and develop a personalised treatment plan to optimise your health and well-being. By working together with experienced specialists, we can reduce AFib-related hospital admissions and improve long-term outcomes for people living with AFib.

Learn More:

Click on the link below to read the full study in the European Heart Journal.

[1] Linh Thi Hai Ngo, Yang Peng, Russell Denman, Ian Yang, Isuru Ranasinghe, Long-term outcomes after hospitalization for atrial fibrillation or flutter, European Heart Journal, 2024;, ehae204, https://doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehae204