Steve Bartlett: I’m not aging, I’m ripening
I turn another year older this week and I must admit, I really enjoy celebrating my birthday.
By Laura Hamilton and Alyssa Roy
Catherine* was watching TV with her husband when suddenly, her heart started racing without reason. “It was very scary,” she says. Catherine was experiencing her first episode of atrial fibrillation (A Fib).
A Fib, the most common heart rhythm abnormality, affects 20,000 Nova Scotians. For people like Catherine, living with A Fib is more than just a frightening experience, it’s a serious condition – one that can drastically increase stroke risk and lead to a poorer quality of life.
Unfortunately, many patients with A Fib, who are at risk of stroke, do not receive guideline-recommended blood thinners; and of those that do, up to 50 per cent are not well controlled. A Nova Scotia research study – Integrated Management Program Advancing Community Treatment of Atrial Fibrillation (IMPACT-AF) – is looking to close A Fib care gaps through the use of interactive, web-based tools that use best practice guidelines, monitor patients’ conditions and alert health care providers to recommended treatment changes. Patients have their own tool to receive health alerts, education and motivational support.
IMPACT-AF aims to help providers address patient needs in a faster, simpler and more personalized way. For example, when patients record blood pressure or symptoms using their online tool, this information is automatically transferred to their provider’s tool.
To test if these tools can reduce the number of strokes, emergency department visits and hospital admissions, IMPACT-AF needs 200 primary care providers and 4,000 of their patients with A Fib to participate in a 12-month clinical trial. Half of the participants will use the web-tools, while the other half will continue with usual care. Participants don’t need to take any new medications or make additional visits to their doctor.
Why participate? Advances in health technology would not be possible without the participation of people like you who know first-hand what it’s like living with A Fib. With your support, we can contribute to improved care, quality of life and heart health outcomes for Nova Scotians with A Fib. Similar tools can then be designed to support other chronic conditions like diabetes.
IMPACT-AF, led by Dr. Jafna Cox (QEII Cardiologist), is supported by a Bayer HealthCare research grant. More than 100 family doctors and 500 of their patients are already participating, including some residents from the New Glasgow area.
Interested in joining? Please visit www.impact-af.ca or call us at 902-473-6309 or toll-free 1-855-550-0557.
* Not her real name.
Laura Hamilton is Research Project Manager and Alyssa Roy is Communications Specialist for IMPACT-AF