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VIDEO: Educational intervention boosts A fib anticoagulation

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Results confirm value of integrated A fib care

IMPACT AF is an important study, with impressive results that confirm the value of integrated atrial fibrillation care. In the study, a comprehensive and continuous educational intervention with 11 distinct components aimed at health care professionals and patients increased the initiation of and adherence to oral anticoagulation in patients with AF. This effect linked with a significantly reduced incidence of strokes.

Digital tools are an important part of the intervention. They provide both information and feedback, and they create a platform that can involve all stakeholders in management of atrial fibrillation. Informing AF patients about their treatment can result in patients who take responsibility for their management. Integrated AF management models can improve continued delivery of chronic care.

Paulus Kirchhof, MD , is a professor and deputy director of the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences at the University of Birmingham, England. He has received honoraria and research funding from several drug companies. He made these comments as designated discussant for the report.



– A program promoting broader anticoagulation of patients with atrial fibrillation that used education and feedback from practice audits produced a substantial increase in sustained anticoagulant use and cut strokes in a multinational study with almost 2,300 patients in 48 practices.

Among atrial fibrillation (AF) patients who were not on an anticoagulant at baseline (34% of the enrolled group) 48% of patients in the intervention group began anticoagulant treatment and remained on it for a year with intervention compared with 18% of patients in the control arm without the intervention, Christopher B. Granger, MD, said at the annual congress of the European Society of Cardiology.

The intervention, which highlighted to health care providers the opportunity to start their AF patients on anticoagulant treatment, “transforms how care is provided to this population” of AF patients, Dr. Granger said in a video interview. “Doing something like this can have enormous public health implications.”

IMPACT AF (The Clinical Trial to Improve Treatment With Blood Thinners in Patients With Atrial Fibrillation) randomized 2,281 AF patients in 48 practices in five middle-income countries: Argentina, Brazil, China, India, and Romania. Randomization was by practice, and patients were assigned to either usual care or to an intervention that ran educational sessions for patients and providers on the benefits of and best practices for using anticoagulants. The intervention also monitored anticoagulant use by the patients in each practice and gave providers case-by-case feedback on the care patients received. The educational component customized the feedback to focus on overcoming treatment barriers specific for each patient. This audit and feedback process was a key part of the intervention, Dr. Granger said.

In an adjusted analysis, among patients not on an anticoagulant at baseline, the ones managed in practices that received the intervention had a greater than fourfold likelihood of receiving anticoagulant treatment, compared with patients in practices with no intervention. The intervention was especially successful in transitioning patients off of aspirin treatment, considered ineffective for AF stroke prevention, and onto an anticoagulant, most commonly warfarin.

Overall, anticoagulant use rose by 12 percentage points from baseline among patients in the intervention practices and by 3 percentage points over baseline among the control patients, a statistically significant difference for the study’s primary endpoint.

During 1-year follow-up, 11 strokes occurred among patients managed in practices that received the intervention and 21 in those in control practices, a 52% relative hazard reduction linked with the intervention that was statistically significant, Dr. Granger reported. Concurrently with his talk, the results also appeared online (Lancet. 2017. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736[17]32165-7).

“How will we take what we have learned [in IMPACT AF] and have it available to people who want to replicate this?” asked Dr. Granger. “We have partnered with several national cardiology societies, and we are working with them to optimize the tools and provide the tools we’ve used,” he said. “We will develop a website for people who want to take this information and use it in their practices.” Dr. Granger and his associates also are working with the Food and Drug Administration and other groups to come up with interventions specially designed for U.S. practice.

IMPACT AF received partial funding from Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Daiichi Sankyo, and Pfizer. Dr. Granger has received honoraria and research funding from all of these companies, and also from Janssen and Medtronic.

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