Sydney cardiologists welcome new test to identify people at risk of atrial fibrillation
2 March 2009
Scientists have developed a score that could help identify people at risk of a common heart problem, atrial fibrillation, and which may also aid the targeting of prevention measures at high–risk individuals.
People who experience atrial fibrillation are at greater risk of stroke and heart failure.
The findings were published in this week’s edition of The Lancet.
In an accompanying commentary, published in the same edition of The Lancet, University of Sydney cardiologists welcomed the development of new risk score.
"Atrial fibrillation is a common heart problem that places people at significantly increased risk of dying from stroke and heart failure,” said Ben Freedman, Professor of Cardiology at Concord Hospital and the University of Sydney. “Under some circumstances, the mortality risk is twice as high, and non-fatal stroke is a devastating complication."
"Its incidence is rising, partly as a result of the ageing population. As many as one in four people are expected to develop atrial fibrillation in their life time, and stroke is likely to be one of the leading causes of death in the world by 2030," he said.
"But if we can identify patients who are at high risk of developing atrial fibrillation, then that is an important step towards finding new preventive measures to improve the health and increase survival of people who might otherwise develop atrial fibrillation."
"That is why this simple risk assessment tool, even though there is more work to be done, offers such potential."
"With this condition, few would argue against the assertion that an ounce of protection is worth a pound of cure."
The Lancet paper, New Predictive Tool Could Be Used to Identify People at Risk of Atrial Fibrillation, reports on researchers attempt to create a new way to score an individual’s risk using clinical characteristics that can be easily assessed in primary care settings. Nearly 5000 study participants were followed over 10 years, and risk score was shown to have a good predictive value.