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Longer and better lives for people with atrial fibrillation - AFNET/EHRA experts publish position paper

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An international group of experts published recommendations for improving the treatment of atrial fibrillation. The position paper summarises the results of the 9th AFNET/EHRA Consensus Conference - a two-day expert meeting jointly hosted by the Atrial Fibrillation Network (AFNET) and the European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA) in Münster, Germany, in September 2023. Today, the consensus report was presented at the EHRA Congress in Berlin by Prof Dominik Linz, Maastricht, Netherlands, and simultaneously published in Europace.


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Atrial fibrillation is the most common cardiac arrhythmia and a growing health problem in an ageing society. It affects several million people in Europe and worldwide.

During the 9th AFNET/EHRA Consensus Conference, 83 international interdisciplinary scientists pooled their knowledge on the treatment and research of atrial fibrillation and discussed new findings and treatment options. Prof Linz, lead author of the publication, explains: "After two days of fruitful discussion, we have summarised our findings. The essentials were summarised in five recommendations."


1. Active rhythm maintenance should be part of the standard initial treatment for all appropriate patients with atrial fibrillation.

2. Patients with device-detected atrial fibrillation have a low atrial fibrillation burden and a low risk of stroke. Anticoagulation prevents some strokes but also increases severe but non-fatal bleeding.

3. Further research is needed to improve the prediction of stroke risk in patients with atrial fibrillation, especially those with a low atrial fibrillation burden. Biomolecules, genetics and imaging may support this.

4. The presence of atrial fibrillation should prompt systematic assessment and comprehensive treatment of concomitant cardiovascular disease.

5. Machine learning algorithms have been used to improve the detection of atrial fibrillation and may help to prevent the development of atrial fibrillation. To realise the potential of data science applications for patients with atrial fibrillation, collaboration between clinicians and data scientists is needed.


DZHK scientist Prof Paulus Kirchhof, Hamburg, one of the four conference chairs and AFNET board member, concludes: "The combination of active rhythm maintenance, anticoagulation, rate regulation and treatment of cardiovascular comorbidities can improve the lives of people with atrial fibrillation." A low atrial fibrillation load is associated with a low rate of stroke and heart failure. Reducing atrial fibrillation burden is becoming a therapeutic goal for patients with atrial fibrillation."

Prof Andreas Goette, Paderborn, also chairman of the conference and AFNET board member, explains: "We are excited to see whether our recommendations will be incorporated into the upcoming atrial fibrillation guidelines and change clinical practice."

Participants at the 9th AFNET/EHRA Consensus Conference came from Europe, the USA, Canada and Australia. The conference was chaired by four cardiologists: Prof Andreas Goette, Paderborn, and Prof Paulus Kirchhof, Hamburg, both from AFNET, as well as Prof Helmut Pürerfellner, Linz, Austria, and Prof Isabell van Gelder, Groningen, Netherlands, both from EHRA.

The conference was organised and co-financed by AFNET and EHRA. Additional financial support was provided by MAESTRIA, which is funded under the European Union (EU) Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant number 965286). Participants from industry paid a participation fee.


Further information on the Atrial Fibrillation Network

Link to the original publication: Longer and better lives for patients with atrial fibrillation: The 9th AFNET/EHRA Consensus Conference (Linz et al., 2024)

Sourcepress release atrial fibrillation network