People with heart rhythm disease have an average of 5 extra health problems

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A group of healthcare researchers is working on a new software tool to improve the management of elderly patients with atrial fibrillation who have multiple conditions.

Atrial fibrillation is a heart rhythm disorder that affects over 40 million people globally.

Patients with atrial fibrillation often have several other conditions that can negatively impact their survival, such as high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, obesity, and chronic kidney disease.

The team is working on developing a standardized approach to provide patients with therapies for these comorbidities that either underlie or complicate their heart rhythm disorder.

EHRA-PATHS is a multicenter international project that focuses on integrated care for patients with atrial fibrillation and at least one additional chronic condition.

The program is being coordinated by the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) and the European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA).

An EHRA-PATHS survey of healthcare professionals previously reported that the lack of an integrated care model was hindering referrals to specialist services for atrial fibrillation comorbidities.

The researchers have defined 22 comorbidities that are relevant in patients with atrial fibrillation.

For each, the consortium has created concise care pathways to check whether a given comorbidity is present, to guide its further evaluation, and to ensure its effective management.

The care pathways are being integrated into a software tool that will help healthcare personnel evaluate atrial fibrillation patients in an effective way.

This software tool aims to improve the outcomes of patients with atrial fibrillation by systematically detecting and managing underlying conditions and referring patients for multidisciplinary care when necessary.

The software will be evaluated in a clinical study involving 65 hospitals in 14 European countries.

In the first part of the study, researchers will evaluate the management of risk factors and comorbidities in approximately 1,300 patients aged 65 years and older with newly diagnosed atrial fibrillation.

Part two will be a randomized controlled trial in 1,080 patients assessing whether allocation to the software tool improves the management of atrial fibrillation compared with usual care.

The trial will focus on 12 comorbidities, including hypertension, hyperlipidemia, heart failure, overweight/obesity, renal insufficiency, smoking, diabetes, coronary heart disease, valvular disease, physical activity, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease/asthma, and alcohol consumption.

How to prevent heart rhythm disease

Heart rhythm diseases, such as atrial fibrillation, can be prevented by adopting healthy lifestyle habits and managing underlying health conditions. Here are some tips to help prevent heart rhythm disease:

Maintain a healthy weight: Excess body weight can increase the risk of developing heart rhythm disease, so it is essential to maintain a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise.

Exercise regularly: Regular exercise helps maintain a healthy heart and cardiovascular system. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity most days of the week.

Manage high blood pressure: High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart rhythm disease, so it is important to keep blood pressure within a healthy range through diet, exercise, and medication, if necessary.

Manage diabetes: Diabetes can damage the blood vessels and increase the risk of developing heart disease, including heart rhythm disease. Proper management of diabetes is essential in reducing this risk.

Avoid smoking and limit alcohol: Smoking can damage the heart and blood vessels and increase the risk of developing heart rhythm disease. Limiting alcohol intake is also important, as excessive alcohol consumption can trigger irregular heart rhythms.

Manage stress: Stress can increase the risk of developing heart rhythm disease, so it is important to manage stress through techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and relaxation exercises.

Get regular check-ups: Regular check-ups with a healthcare provider can help identify any underlying health conditions that may increase the risk of developing heart rhythm disease.

By adopting these healthy lifestyle habits and managing underlying health conditions, you can reduce your risk of developing heart rhythm disease and promote overall heart health.

If you care about heart health, please read studies about COVID infection and vaccination linked to heart problems, and how to drink coffee to prevent heart disease and stroke.

For more information about heart health, please see recent studies about common food that may strongly increase heart disease risk, and results showing Vitamin K2 could help reduce heart disease risk.

The study was conducted by Hein Heidbuchel et al and presented at EHRA 2023.

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