Global Atrial Fibrillation Aware Week

Global Atrial Fibrillation Aware Week and the impact of AF in the population

This week, as every year, from AF Association, hosts the Global AF Aware Week, with the aim of raising awareness of Atrial Fibrillation. Under the slogan “No More Time To Lose”, it aims to address the impact of COVID-19 on people who have Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) or are at risk of suffering from it, as well as to underline the importance of this pathology in our daily lives.

Within the PersonalizeAF network, researchers dedicate their day to research for its prevention, diagnosis and treatments, so we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to recognize the importance of awareness in this widespread pathology. In fact, in 2016, approximately 43.6 million people suffered from AFib worldwide.

AFib is a pathology that greatly affects those who suffer from it, as it has great effects on the daily life of a large part of the population. One example is that 1 in 3 people of European descent is at risk of suffering AFib by the time they reach the age of 55.  This is why patients deserve access to appropriate and personalized treatments, so that they can improve both their quality of life and their life expectancy.

However, people unfamiliar with Atrial Fibrillation and arrythmias may be wondering: What is Atrial Fibrillation? How does it affect those who suffer from it?

According to the ESC Guidelines, Atrial Fibrilation (AFib) is “A supraventricular tachyarrhythmia with uncoordinated atrial electrical activation and consequently ineffective atrial contraction“. What does this mean exactly? AFib is an arrhythmia affecting the upper part of the heart, the atria, which has an irregular electrical activity leading to an irregular and rapid heart contraction. AFib is the most common arrhythmia in adults, according to ESC guidelines.

How is AFib diagnosed? AFib, like other heart diseases, is measured with an electrocardiogram (ECG), which shows and measures the rhythm of the heart. A pulse method can detect an irregular rhythm in as little as 30 seconds, such as the initiative shown in the image:


From: Know your

The diagnosis of AF requires rhythm documentation with an electrocardiogram (ECG) tracing showing AF. An episode lasting at least 30 s is diagnostic for clinical AF. There are different types of AFibs, which can be distinguished in the following table:

Different types of Atrial Fibrillation. Image from ESC guidelines 2020

Some symptoms of AF can be summarised as general fatigue in the sufferer, rapid and irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness, palpitations, chest pains, weakness, anxiety and confusion.

This condition also carries with it a number of consequences such as death, stroke (AFib patients are 5 times more likely to suffer heart attack, depression, heart failure, vascular dementia, impaired quality of life, hospitalisations, syncope, depression (up to 20% of the patients suffer from it).

However, the Symptoms can also be none, there are patients who do not develop any symptoms that could warn them that something is wrong with their heart. Actually, the Asymptomatic clinical AFib has been associated with bigger risk of stroke and mortality compared with symptomatic AFib, detected in data derived from studies where AFib has occurred incidentally.

Increasing availability of AFib detection and diagnosis tools is one of the keys to the fight against AFib. Early detection, which can be done at the first sign of symptoms, or by regular check-ups, is vital to its control. This, together with improving the patient’s lifestyle, and the use of appropriate patient-centered treatment, including anticoagulation therapy to reduce the risk of heart attack, and treatments to control the heart rhythm and maintain it at a normal rate, can save thousands of lives around the world, and improve the lives of many more.

As AF Association points out in its press release, the impact of the pandemic has caused waiting lists for Afib treatment to lengthen, aggravating the impact of AFib on citizens. It is therefore important to remember how the disease affectes patients, as well as the importance of providing effective, personalised and early diagnosis and treatment methods for those with the condition.

Don’t forget to share on your social networks and contribute to raise awareness and spread knowledge about #AFib around the world.


#AFIB #AFIB #GAFAW2021 #PersonalizeAF #research 

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  • European Heart Journal, Volume 42, Issue 5, 1 February 2021, Pages 373–498,
  • “No More Time to Lose for people living with a potentially fatal heart rhythm disorder – international charity calls for action now” by Abi Stafford,AF Association