World Heart Federation Announces a Donation from Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer for a Program to Help Improve Experiences for People with Atrial Fibrillation (AF)

GENEVA, Sept. 25, 2014 /PRNewswire/ —

AF is the most common type of heart arrhythmia in the world, responsible for 15 – 20 per cent of strokes which affect the brain  

The World Heart Federation (WHF) is delighted to announce a charitable donation from the pharmaceutical companies Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer.  The donation will support a program aimed at engaging patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) and their carers, along with healthcare professionals and policy makers, to help improve experiences for patients living with AF and support policy change to improve cardiovascular disease care.  This initiative, which included a Patient Advisory Council, is strongly linked to achieving the key WHF ’25×25′ policy target to reduce premature deaths caused by cardiovascular disease (CVD) by 25% by 2025.

Meeting in Melbourne as part of the World Heart Federation’s World Congress of Cardiology, an inaugural Patient Advisory Council was held. The Patient Advisory Council , consisting of leading expert cardiologists and patient group representatives, convened to discuss the AF patient journey and important factors related to this including symptom recognition, diagnosis, care management and patient adherence to treatment options.

AF is caused by irregular electrical impulses in the heart, which lead to an irregular heartbeat and can cause unpleasant symptoms such as tiredness, light-headedness and shortness of breath.  AF can be hard to diagnose because not everyone experiences these symptoms, which can mean the condition may go undetected until someone has a health check up.  

"AF is a debilitating and under-recognised illness, which affects millions of people worldwide.  The most important aspect of this initiative is the impact it is designed to have on people living with AF and their families, who need the right support and advice to help them cope with the condition.  I am excited by the discussions we had in Melbourne and am looking forward to seeing this initiative grow and develop," said Johanna Ralston, Chief Executive of the World Heart Federation. 

Recommendations from the initial meeting addressed the needs of AF patients and their carers as well as the fact that there are gaps in diagnosis. At the centre of the discussion, all Council members agreed that there is a real need for tailored support and education for people with AF.  These should include practical suggestions including counselling for patients and carers, a toolkit and other support such as blogs and web sites to help patients living with and the management of AF.  

In addition to the patient support, the Patient Advisory Council agreed there are also actions required at the clinical and policy levels to improve AF care globally.  The medical community would benefit from further training and information on AF; most countries have no national policies on AF, so targeting policies to provide better funding, training and campaigns focusing on the condition may help improve patient outcomes.  

"Increasing education about atrial fibrillation is critical due to the seriousness of this condition, which is associated with a five times higher risk of stroke in those with AF compared to those without AF," says David DeMicco, Medical Affairs Lead, Global Innovative Products.

"Pfizer is excited to be extending our commitment to patients through the support of this program."

"Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer believe strongly that improving care of people with AF begins with increasing awareness and understanding of the condition as well as innovative opportunities to improve care," said Sharon Henry, vice president, Head of Global Medical Advocacy, Bristol-Myers Squibb. "The management of AF is complex and we are pleased to provide a charitable donation to support the World Heart Federation’s important AF educational initiative.  This innovative, independent program is designed to support patients who live with this disease."

The next stage of the program will involve in-country workshops set to take place later this year where participants will work at a local level to move forward with the practical solutions to some of the problems highlighted in the inaugural meeting.  For more information please go to: [insert web links as appropriate].

About the World Heart Federation 

The World Heart Federation is the only global advocacy and leadership organization bringing together the cardiovascular disease (CVD) community to help people everywhere lead heart-healthy lives. We strive for a world where there are at least 25% fewer premature deaths from CVD by 2025.

That’s why we and our 200+ members work courageously to end needless deaths from exposure to tobacco and other risk factors, lack of access to treatment, and neglected conditions like rheumatic heart disease which kills hundreds of thousands of children each year. Across 100 countries, with its members, the World Heart Federation works to build global commitment to addressing cardiovascular health at the policy level, generates and exchanges ideas, shares best practice, advances scientific knowledge and promotes knowledge transfer to tackle CVD- the world’s number one killer. World Heart Federation is at the heart of driving the CVD agenda and advocating for better heart health – enabling people to live longer, better and more heart healthy lives whoever and wherever they are.

For more information, please visit:; and

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Rosie Ireland

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