An iPACT study has demonstrated that community pharmacists are ideally located to support awareness campaigns and early detection of AF. With this project, we want to further expand the scope of Belgian pharmacy practice in the prevention and detection of chronic diseases.
Atrial fibrillation is the most common cardiac arrhythmia globally, responsible for one third of strokes and often resulting in death or incapacity. This condition, frequently asymptomatic, is estimated to be up to 50% undiagnosed. Reducing this risk with appropriate detection and management strategies offers substantial economic and patient benefits. Both ESC and iPACT recommend (opportunistic) screening for AF by pulse taking or ECG rhythm strip in patients >65 years of age or other risk factors and (if needed) referred to a physician for diagnosis.
iPACT has done a multinational study to assess if screening for AF could be performed by community pharmacists. They established a partnership with the Atrial Fibrillation Association (AFA) and in two campaigns they we were able to involve seventy-eight pharmacies in ten different countries (Canada, Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Hungary, France, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom) and a total of 2475 patients were screened through a simple ‘know your pulse’ (either manual or medical device) performed by the community pharmacist. 1,4% percent was diagnosed with AF.
Belgium – Flanders
Screening in Belgium is still a grey area and we could unfortunately not participate in this multinational campaign. We did however set up our own very local project in Schoten, Antwerpen within the contours of a Masterthesis at the University of Brussels, where we found similar results.
Silas is co-promotor of this thesis.