World Heart Day is the world’s biggest awareness-raising platform for cardiovascular disease. The annual campaign brings together individuals, families, communities and organisations around the world to participate in activities to take charge of their heart health and that of others. This year’s theme for World Heart Dayis to make a promise... for my heart, for your heart, for all our hearts.
It beats 115,000 times a day, pumping 2,000 gallons of blood around the body1. So it’s important to keep your heart healthly. Yet heart disease remains the world’s number one killer, killing 17.5 million people every year2.
One of the lesser known heart diseases is atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common heart arrhythmia which causes the heart to beat irregularly, too fast or too slow, resulting in poor blood flow3. Patients with AF have an increased risk of life-threatening complications and other diseases such as stroke and heart failure. It is estimated that there are 33 million people globally with AF4 and it is placing increased financial pressures on the healthcare system, with estimates suggesting that up to 2.5% of total health care expenditure is associated with AF5.
Make a promise on World Heart Day
At JnJ, we take heart health seriously. Today, on World Heart Day, we’re making a promise to help heal hearts from AF. We’ve also asked colleagues and partners to share their promises too…
“I’m making a promise to listen to my heart rhythm…”
Gabriele Fischetto, EMEA VP Cardiovascular and Specialty Solutions, Johnson and Johnson
“As with many other heart conditions, men are more likely to be diagnosed with AF, in fact, they are 13%6 more likely to develop the condition compared with women. For some people the symptoms can disrupt daily life7 as AFis associated with debilitating symptoms, such as palpitations, shortness of breath, fatigue and chest pains; however, others don’t have any symptoms. This can cause issues as these people aren’t diagnosed early enough to prevent complications. Therefore it’s important to know how to monitor your own heart health.
Generally, patients do not recognise the symptoms of AF, which can typically lead to a 4 to 5 year delay before AF diagnosis8. If AF is diagnosed and managed early, many cases of stroke can be prevented. The easiest way to detect if you have AF is by checking your pulse, is it uneven, too fast or too slow? That’s why I’m making a promise to Know My Pulse to listen to my heart rhythm. Know Your Pulse has some great tools to get to know the rhythm of your heart in three easy steps.”
“I’m making a promise to stop progression of disease…”
Daniella Cramp, U.S President, Biosense Webster
“As AF is a progressive disease9 it is essential to get treatment sooner rather than later, as it becomes harder to treat as symptoms become more severe. Many people aren’t aware of the devastating complications that AF can cause, as it increases a patient’s risk of stroke fivefold10. We developed an educational resource called Get Smart About Afib to provide patients with information about the disease.
There are many things that patients can do to help minimize progression of the disease, including modifying diet and exercise plans, and incorporating smoking cessation. We always recommend that patients reach out to their healthcare practitioner if they feel their AF is not controlled and symptoms are not managed. The key is to stop the progression in its tracks so that patients can avoid the devastating complications that AF can cause and improve quality of life.”
“I’m making a promise to help people work out anywhere, anytime…”
Chris Jordan, Director of Exercise Physiology at Johnson and Johnson Human Performance Institute
"Many people know how important exercise is in maintaining a healthy heart11. There has been much debate on the appropriate levels of exercise for patients with AF. However, there is increasing evidence to show that in many patients lifestyle change, including weight management and exercise, along with risk factor management, can help to reduce AF symptoms and may even have an anti-arrhythmic effect.
The appropriate level of exercise for patients diagnosed with atrial fibrillation is a complex decision process that must involve each patient and their treating physician. This decision must consider the patient’s individual heart status and their individual goals. Many times, patients are encouraged to be physically active with moderation. I’m making a promise to help people work out anywhere, anytime, and to help people do this, we’ve created an App. The Johnson & Johnson Official 7-Minute Workout Appis a fast, simple, science-based way to work out and caters for a range of lifestyles, including lower intensity workouts that may be suitable for some AF patients.”
Patients should always talk to their healthcare provider prior to starting or changing an exercise program.
“I’m making a promise to heal more hearts”
Professor M. Duytschaever, MD, Heart Division Az Sint-Jan Hospital, Belgium
“Over the last century, the most commonly used treatments for AF have been anti-arrhythmic medicines. However, 48% of patients are not well managed on antiarrhythmic drugs alone12. The goal of AF treatment is now moving away from managing the disease to curing it. A recent single center study found that following catheter ablation adopting an Optimized Workflow with the CARTO® 3 System CARTO VISITAGTM Module with Ablation Index, 92% of patients were free from AF at their 12-month follow-up13. These are exciting developments and provide further evidence that an AF diagnosis doesn’t mean a life time of drug treatment.
However, despite international guidelines supporting the use of ablation for the treatment of AF, only 4% of eligible patients currently receive ablation treatment14. My promise is to heal more hearts and cure patients of their AF through catheter ablation.”
We encourage you all to make a promise …. for my heart, for your heart, for all our hearts.
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2. World Heart Federation. What is World Heart Day? https://www.world-heart-federation.org/world-heart-day/about-whd/. Last accessed September 18, 2018.
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10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Atrial Fibrillation Fact Sheet. https://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fs_atrial_fibrillation.htm. Last accessed September 25, 2018.
11. Heart Foundation. The Benefits of Exercise. https://www.heartfoundation.org.nz/wellbeing/exercise. Last accessed September 18, 2018.
12. Calkins H, Reynolds MR, Spector P, Sondhi M, Xu Y et al. (2009) Treatment of atrial fibrillation with antiarrhythmic drugs or radiofrequency ablation: two systematic literature reviews and meta-analyses. Circ Arrhythm Electrophysiol 2 (4): 349-361.
13. Taghji, p. et al. Evaluation of a Strategy Aiming to Enclose the Pulmonary Veins With Contiguous and Optimized Radiofrequency Lesions in Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation, Journal of American College of Cardiology: Clinical Electrophysiology, article in press (2017)
14. Pillarisetti J, Lakkireddy D. Atrial fibrillation in Europe: state of the state in disease management! Bloch Heart Rhythm Center, Division of Cardiovascular Diseases, Cardiovascular Research Institute, University of Kansas Hospital & Medical Center, Kansas City, KS. European Heart Journal (2014) 35, 3326–3327
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