Developing a targeted screening program for the detection of unknown atrial fibrillation

Years funded:

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common heart rhythm disorder and a significant cause of illness, disability and even death. 

AF increases the risk of stroke five-fold, heart failure three-fold and doubles the risk of death. 

Patients typically experience palpitations in their chest (a “fluttering” feeling), dizziness and tiredness but about one third of individuals will experience no symptoms at all. 

Therefore, a significant number of individuals are at high risk for stroke, heart failure and death but don’t know it. 

If these individuals can be identified, early treatment can be initiated to reduce the likelihood of complications and reduce costs related to AF. 

This project will test a self-administered AF screening program that targets individuals who are most likely to develop AF and suffer from related stroke. 

Individuals aged 65 years and older attending their local General Practice clinic who have one or more risk factor for AF (high blood pressure, heart failure, obesity, type 2 diabetes and/or coronary artery disease) will be invited to participate. 

Following an initial visit, those at high risk for AF development and stroke will receive a self-screening, hand-held electrocardiogram (ECG) device for the detection of AF. 

Dr Jocasta Ball will test how well this targeted screening program (aimed at those at higher risk) works and if there is potential for developing it into a widespread community screening program

Researcher Profile

Dr Jocasta Ball

Institute: Australian Catholic University
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