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Understanding Atrial Fibrillation is the first step​

If you’ve been diagnosed with AF, don’t worry – you are not alone. In fact, you are one of 11 million across Europe with the world’s most common heart rhythm problem. It is also expected that over 886,000 new patients will be diagnosed each year in Europe.1

Understanding Atrial Fibrillation is the first step towards successfully managing your arrhythmia. This general overview intends to help you become familiar with some of the main terms and procedures associated with Atrial Fibrillation, to help you make informed decisions about your health care. 

atrial fibrillation europe

Your doctor may need to refer you to other members of the healthcare team to carry out tests or procedures in a hospital setting. It may be helpful to understand who could be involved and what role they are likely to play:

General Practitioners (GPs)

Will most likely be your first point of contact, and your doctor will retain overall responsibility for providing any long-term care.

Cardiologists

Specialist doctors who are experts in the care of the heart, they may be involved in further tests to establish a firm diagnosis.

Electrophysiologists

Specialist doctors who focus on your heart’s electrical system and on diagnosing and treating irregular heartbeats or arrhythmias.

Cardiac Physiologists

Carry out cardiac tests, such as echocardiograms, ECGs, and blood pressure measurements. They may also work in the cath lab assisting the electrophysiologist.

Stroke Specialists

If your doctor thinks you are at high risk of stroke you may be referred to a Stroke specialist team to assess your risk further, and offer further medical advice and potential treatment.

Anaesthesiologists

Specialist doctors who will manage pain during and immediately after any surgery.

Track and report my symptoms

While you are undergoing treatment for AF, you are likely to need a series of appointments with various members of your healthcare team. By using the symptom tracker (or app), you can provide accurate information about any ongoing symptoms – both types of symptoms and their severity. You can also use the tracker to note if you think your symptoms have been triggered by anything in particular, such as exercise or drinking caffeine. 

This information will be very useful for your team to see if any patterns are emerging and to understand the impact of AF on your overall health.

atrial fibrillation symptoms

Understand your treatment options

Up to 69% of patients report symptoms even when being treated for AF2,3, so discussing ongoing symptoms with your doctor may lead to decisions around changing your treatment approach and in discussing other options. 

Try and be as involved as you can in these decisions. Shared decision-making between patients and their healthcare teams has shown to offer benefits for patients, such as improved adherence to medicines and better overall motivation to follow any advice provided.4

atrial fibrillation treatment

Resources

1. Global Burden of Disease Collaborative Network (2016) Global Burden of Disease Study 2016 (GBD 2016) Results. Seattle, United States: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), 2017. Accessed 2018-04-20. Available from http://ghdx.healthdata.org/gbd-results-tool. 2. Rienstra M, Lubitz SA, Mahida S, Magnani JW, Fontes JD et al. (2012) Symptoms and functional status of patients with atrial fibrillation: state of the art and future research opportunities. 3. Nieuwlaat R, Capucci A, Camm AJ, Olsson SB, Andresen D et al. (2005) Atrial fibrillation management: a prospective survey in ESC member countries: the Euro Heart Survey on Atrial Fibrillation. Eur Heart J 26 (22): 2422-2434. 4. Barry M (2012) Shared Decision Making — The Pinnacle of Patient-Centered Care N Engl J Med ; 366:780-781.

Disclaimer: The information featured here is not intended as medical advice, or to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. Please talk to your doctor if you have any questions.

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