Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is a rising epidemic and progressive chronic disease. It affects several million people in Europe, and it causes morbidity and mortality on a population level, including deaths, strokes, and reduced quality of life. This harm associated with AF can so far not be prevented by the current therapies maintaining sinus rhythm. Experts therefore postulate an earlier and more comprehensive management of AF patients. This is the main conclusion of the 2nd AFNET-EHRA consensus conference on research perspectives in atrial fibrillation. Over 70 experts from academia and industry met last October in order to set the agenda for urgent research in the field of AF. The international summit was organised by the German Competence Network on Atrial Fibrillation (AFNET) and the European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA), and initiated by cardiologists G├╝nter Breithardt (M├╝nster, Germany), John Camm (London, UK), Harry Crijns (Maastricht, NL), and Paulus Kirchhof (M├╝nster, Germany). The results have been made available on line in the European Heart Journal (executive summary, 2) and in the Europace Journal (full paper, 1).

During the conference, three main areas in need of research were identified:

  1. Understanding the mechanisms of AF
  2. Improving rhythm control monitoring and management
  3. Validation and implementation of comprehensive cardiovascular risk management in AF patients
The expectation of the attendees of the conference was that, in the future, an adequate therapy of AF will need to simultaneously address:
  • management of underlying and concomitant diseases,
  • early and comprehensive rhythm control therapy,
  • adequate control of ventricular rate and cardiac function,
  • continuous therapy to prevent AF-associated complications.
Prof. Kirchhof and the other organisers of the AFNET-EHRA summit expressed their optimism: "We hope that the conference and the publication of the results will stimulate research, improve the management of AF patients, and contribute to reducing the burden of AF in the community."

The European Society of Cardiology (ESC):
The ESC represents nearly 53,000 cardiology professionals across Europe and the Mediterranean. Its mission is to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease in Europe.

The ESC achieves this through a variety of scientific and educational activities including the coordination of: clinical practice guidelines, education courses and initiatives, pan-European surveys on specific disease areas and the ESC Annual Congress, the largest medical meeting in Europe. The ESC also works closely with the European Commission and WHO to improve health policy in the EU.

The ESC comprises 3 Councils, 5 Associations, 19 Working Groups, 50 National Cardiac Societies and an ESC Fellowship Community (Fellow, FESC; Nurse Fellow, NFESC). For more information on ESC Initiatives, Congresses and Constituent Bodies see www.escardio.org.

European Society of Cardiology, The European Heart House 2035 Route des Colles, B.P. 179 - Les Templiers, Sophia Antipolis F-06903 France

References

1. Kirchhof P, Bax J, Blomstrom-Lundquist C, Calkins H, Camm AJ, Cappato R, Cosio F, Crijns H, Diener HC, Goette A, Israel CW, Kuck KH, Lip G, Nattel S, Page R, Ravens U, Schotten U, Steinbeck G, Vardas P, Waldo A, Wegscheider K, Willems S, Breithardt G. Early and comprehensive management of AF: Proceedings from the 2nd AFNET-EHRA consensus conference on atrial fibrillation entitled "research perspectives in AF". Europace 2009; in press.

2. Kirchhof P, Bax J, Blomstrom-Lundquist C, Calkins H, Camm AJ, Cappato R, Cosio F, Crijns H, Diener HC, Goette A, Israel CW, Kuck KH, Lip G, Nattel S, Page R, Ravens U, Schotten U, Steinbeck G, Vardas P, Waldo A, Wegscheider K, Willems S, Breithardt G. Early and comprehensive management of AF: Exectuvie summary of the proceedings from the 2nd AFNET-EHRA consensus conference "research perspectives in AF". Eur Heart J 2009; in press.

Footnotes

* The European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA), a branch of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC), is an association specialising in electrophysiology and was created from the merger of two former Working Groups on 'Cardiac Pacing' and on 'Arrhythmias'. Its ambition is to serve as the leading organisation in the field of arrhythmias and electrophysiology in Europe, and to attract all physicians from Europe and beyond to foster the development of this area of expertise.

AFNET: The German Competence Network on Atrial Fibrillation (AFNET) is an interdisciplinary research network located in Germany. AFNET aims to improve care of patients with atrial fibrillation by promoting research, medical services and information in emerging diagnostic and therapeutic fields in atrial fibrillation. The network has been funded by the German Federal Ministry of Research and Education since 2003. http://www.kompetenznetz-vorhofflimmern.de/