Public Release: 

Discovery of atrial fibrillation subtypes paves way for precision medicine

European Society of Cardiology

Lisbon, Portugal - 15 March 2019: The discovery of subtypes of atrial fibrillation paves the way for individualised treatment. That's the main message from the joint EHRA/AFNET conference, where new data from the CATCH ME project will be presented, and a consensus reached on personalised medicine approaches to improve patient care.1

The meeting is being held on 15 and 16 March in Lisbon, Portugal. It is organised by the European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA) of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) and the Atrial Fibrillation NETwork (AFNET) with funding from the CATCH ME Consortium EU Horizon 2020 Grant.

Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm disorder (arrhythmia). It causes 20-30% of all strokes and also increases the risk of heart failure and sudden death.2 Signs of atrial fibrillation include palpitations, shortness of breath, tiredness, chest pain and dizziness.3

Professor Paulus Kirchhof, one of the event organisers and chair of the 2016 ESC atrial fibrillation guidelines, said: "Atrial fibrillation remains one of the most common and most challenging conditions in cardiology. Patients have different profiles and medical problems related to atrial fibrillation. During the meeting we will review emerging data to discover patient profiles for precision medicine, enabling clinicians and researchers to better estimate who will benefit from current and emerging therapies."

Novel results from the CATCH ME project help define clinical types of atrial fibrillation based on the main cause and shed light on mechanisms of atrial fibrillation from gene expression analysis of human atrial tissue. The findings of these studies will be presented in full at the EHRA 2019 Congress.4,5 New information will also be presented on blood biomarkers for different types of atrial fibrillation, and on outcomes of atrial fibrillation patients who also have heart failure and in those who have a bleeding event.

The conference will be attended by around 80 leading scientists and clinicians in atrial fibrillation management and research, and industry partners. It will cover the entire spectrum of atrial fibrillation, from patterns of gene expression in atrial tissue (the "molecular signature"), to clinical types, patient management, healthcare systems, and patient education. This breadth will be reflected in a consensus paper. Among the statements set to be agreed are how to tailor the use of anticoagulation and rhythm control therapy to newly defined types of atrial fibrillation.

The meeting title is "Management of patients with atrial fibrillation: New therapies and special populations". In addition to the populations revealed by CATCH ME, these include patients with:

  • Bleeding on anticoagulation, for whom a left atrial appendage occluder may prevent stroke at lower bleeding risk
  • Concomitant heart failure, in whom there is controversy over the benefits of rhythm control therapy, particularly catheter ablation
  • End stage kidney disease, who have high stroke and bleeding risks
  • Very rare atrial arrhythmias detected by devices including smartwatches.

The current state of play on applications (apps) for diagnosis and management of atrial fibrillation will be presented, as well as up-to-the-minute knowledge on how atrial fibrillation contributes to cognitive dysfunction and dementia following an EHRA consensus document published last year.6

EHRA President Professor Hein Heidbuchel, one of the event organisers, said: "There is a need for more personalised medicine for the diverse group of patients with atrial fibrillation. Luckily, science is moving quickly, and during this meeting world experts will convene to present data that allow further refinement of the diagnosis and treatment of patients with atrial fibrillation. Our goal is to better control symptoms and further reduce the risks of stroke and premature death for affected patients."

###

Authors: ESC Press Office
+33 (0)4 8987 2499
Email: press@escardio.org

Follow us on Twitter @ESCardioNews
The hashtag for the EHRA 2019 Congress is #ehra2019.

Sources of funding: The Characterising Atrial fibrillation by Translating its Causes into Health Modifiers in the Elderly (CATCH ME) Consortium EU Horizon 2020 Grant 633196.

Disclosures: None.

References and notes

1The 7th EHRA/AFNET Consensus Conference, "Management of patients with atrial fibrillation: New therapies and special populations", will be held in Lisbon, Portugal on 15 and 16 March 2019.

2Kirchhof P, Benussi S, Kotecha D, et al. 2016 ESC Guidelines for the management of atrial fibrillation developed in collaboration with EACTS. Eur Heart J. 2016;37:2893-2962. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehw210.

3Learn to recognise signs and symptoms of atrial fibrillation: https://www.afibmatters.org/en_GB/Signs-and-symptoms.

4The abstract 'Development of a prognostic model for recurrent atrial fibrillation using individual patient data from 2429 patients with AF: preliminary results of the CATCH ME study' will be presented during the EHRA 2019 Congress session Moderated ePosters 10: clinical AF on Monday 18 March at 15:35 to 16:25 WET (GMT) in the Poster Area.

5The abstract 'Side-specific differences in atrial tissue expression are associated with atrial fibrillation and heart failure: the CATCH ME Consortium' will be presented during the EHRA 2019 Congress session Moderated ePosters 9: new basic arrhythmia insight from around the world on Monday 18 March at 10:05 to 10:55 WET (GMT) in the Poster Area.

6Dagres N, Chao TF, Fenelon G, et al. European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA)/Heart Rhythm Society (HRS)/Asia Pacific Heart Rhythm Society (APHRS)/Latin American Heart Rhythm Society (LAHRS) expert consensus on arrhythmias and cognitive function: what is the best practice? Europace. 2018;20:1399-1421. doi: 10.1093/europace/euy046.

About the European Heart Rhythm Association

The European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA) is a branch of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). Its aim is improving the quality of life and reducing sudden cardiac death by limiting the impact of heart rhythm disturbances. EHRA ensures the dissemination of knowledge and standard setting; provides continuous education, training and certification to physicians and allied professionals involved in the field of cardiac arrhythmias with a special focus on Atrial Fibrillation (AF) and Electrophysiology (EP). EHRA releases international consensus documents and position papers, it is a source of high quality, unbiased, evidence based, scientific information that promotes the quality of care for patients with AF, and for, has also dedicated a website for patients "afibmatters.org". #EHRA

About the EHRA Congress

EHRA 2019 is the annual congress of the European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA) of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

About the European Society of Cardiology

The European Society of Cardiology brings together health care professionals from more than 150 countries, working to advance cardiovascular medicine and help people lead longer, healthier lives.

Information for journalists attending EHRA 2019

EHRA 2019 will be held 17 to 19 March at the Lisbon Congress Centre (CCL) in Lisbon, Portugal. Explore the scientific programme.

  • To register on-site please bring a valid press card or appropriate letter of assignment with proof of three recent published articles (cardiology or health-related, or referring to a previous ESC Event).
  • Press registration is not available to industry or its public relations representatives, event management, marketing or communications representatives.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.