The Heart Rhythm Society/American College of Physicians Atrial Fibrillation Screening and Education Initiative


      The prevalence of both atrial fibrillation (AF) and stroke is increasing. Stroke is common in AF and can have devastating consequences, especially when AF is unrecognized and anticoagulation is not initiated.


      The purpose of this study was to demonstrate the feasibility and yield, both in identifying previously undiagnosed AF and in educating patients and caregivers about AF, of systematic screening events in internal medicine practices using a mobile electrocardiogram device (Kardia/AliveCor iECG).


      With support from the Heart Rhythm Society and the American College of Physicians, 5 internal medicine practices performed systematic screening and education of patients at higher risk of AF using the Kardia/AliveCor device and a variety of educational materials. Patients screened as “unclassified” or “possible AF” were referred for further evaluation. Patients and providers (physicians, nurses, and allied professionals) assessed the screening process.


      A total of 772 patients were screened. The mean age was 65.2 ± 15.4 years, and 281 (28.2%) were 75 years or older. The majority, 521 (67.5%), were female, and 586 (75.7%) had a CHA2DS2-VASc score of ≥2. Six hundred seventy patients (86.8%) were screened as “normal,” 85 (11.0%) as “unclassified,” and 17 (2.2%) as “possible AF.” Participants demonstrated a significant knowledge deficit about stroke and AF before the screening events, and the majority felt that their awareness of these issues increased significantly as a result of their participation.


      This collaborative Heart Rhythm Society/American College of Physicians systematic screening effort using the Kardia/AliveCor device was feasible. Although it resulted in a relatively modest yield of “unclassified” or “possible AF” screens, it had significant educational benefit to participants and caregivers. The diagnostic yield of future programs could be enriched by including more elderly patients and those with more risk factors for AF and stroke. A greater duration or frequency of monitoring would likely increase sensitivity but be more complicated and costlier to administer. Future events should include on-site confirmatory testing with a 12-lead electrocardiogram. Devices such as the Kardia/AliveCor monitor may enhance patient engagement in screening programs.


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