Alice* was having a typical evening, watching a movie with her husband at home. Suddenly, her heart started to beat rapidly. She felt like she was out for a run – but she was lying down on her sofa. “My heart started racing, for no reason what-so-ever…it was very scary”. What Alice didn’t know, was that she was experiencing her first episode of atrial fibrillation.
Atrial fibrillation (AF or A Fib), the most common heart rhythm abnormality, affects up to 20,000 Nova Scotians. For people like Alice, living with A Fib is more than just a frightening experience, it’s a serious condition – one that can significantly increase the risk of stroke and lead to a poorer quality of life.
Despite the existence of best practice guidelines, and newer drug treatments for managing A Fib symptoms and stroke risk, gaps in care still occur. A Halifax-based research study called Integrated Management Program Advancing Community Treatment of Atrial Fibrillation (IMPACT-AF) is looking to address this situation through the use of interactive, web-based, clinical tools. These tools adhere to best practice guidelines, monitoring patients’ conditions and alerting healthcare providers to any recommended treatment changes. Patients can also use their own tool to receive health alerts, educational materials and motivational support.
We hope that these tools will not only help improve health outcomes for patients living with A Fib, but allow their health care providers to address their needs in a faster, simpler, and more personalized way. For example, when patients or caregivers record blood pressure, heart rate and A Fib symptoms using their online tool, this information is transferred automatically to their physician’s tool. This happens quickly and without waiting for an appointment to tell your healthcare provider about these things.
Participants needed! To test if these tools can be successful in reducing the number of strokes, emergency department visits and admissions to hospital, and improving care for people like Alice, the study needs up to 200 primary care providers in Nova Scotia (i.e., family doctors, nurse practitioners, family practice nurses) and 4,000 of their patients with A Fib to participate in a 12-month clinical trial. Half of the participants will have their care supported by the web-tools, while the other half will continue to be treated as usual.
The study does not require people with AF to take any new medications, or make any additional visits to their doctor.
Why participate? Your interest and involvement is truly valued. You will help us understand the potential benefits of using these web-based tools so that we can help close potential gaps in care. Advances in health care technology would not be possible without the participation of people, like Alice, who know first-hand what it is like to live with a condition such as A Fib. Our hope is that, with your support, this study will contribute to improved care, quality of life and heart health outcomes for all people in Nova Scotia. Once these methods are proven effective, similar tools can be designed to support other chronic conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
Who is involved? The study is being led by Dr. Jafna Cox, (Endowed Chair in Cardiovascular Outcomes Research for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Nova Scotia) and is supported by a Bayer HealthCare investigator-sponsored research grant. Other researchers include: Dr. Ratika Parkash; Dr. Raza Abidi; Dr. Samina Abidi; and, Dr. James (Jim) MacKillop, Dr. Lehana Thabane and Dr. Feng Xie. These researchers receive guidance and expertise from a broad range of stakeholders including, health care providers, and patient representatives, as well as organizations and government agencies such as Cardiovascular Health Nova Scotia, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Department of Health and Wellness, Doctors Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation.
Interested in joining? Call the study coordinator directly at 902-473-6309 or toll-free 1-855-550-0557.
* Not her real name.
Share your story:
IMPACT-AF wants to hear from you. If you have an experience with AF or reasons why you think it is important to join a study like ours, let us know!
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or post on our Facebook page.