AFib is characterized by an irregular heartbeat and can lead to increased risk of blood clots, stroke and heart failure, as well as other complications. Stroke is one of the most damaging outcomes, yet nearly half of patients with AFib are not appropriately treated for it or educated in ways to prevent it.
The cost associated with AFib is steep, not only financially but to patients’ quality of life. Most of AFib’s $6.65 billion price tag comes from hospitalizations, and more than 80 percent of them are unnecessary.
But that may soon change. The Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation is funding the expansion of a pilot project at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine (UNC) that showed a 30 percent reduction in hospitalizations in patients with AFib when a streamlined model of care was introduced and AFib was treated as a chronic disease.
The model was launched in 2015 at UNC Cardiology’s Meadowmont Clinic in Chapel Hill by Dr. Anil Gehi, a UNC cardiologist, in response to what he says was a disorganized approach to AFib patient care.
“Patients bounce around among many different providers – primary care physicians, cardiologists and emergency medicine physicians,” he says. “Very often, there is not much coordination of care.”