The University of Hong Kong (HKU) on Thursday announced the release of a new mobile app and screening programme to help prevent heart stroke in atrial fibrillation (AF) patients.
According to the research findings by HKU and Taiwan’s Yang-Ming University, patients with AF have a five-fold higher risk of stroke than ordinary people. In Hong Kong, 12,000 cases of stroke are registered each year, among which, 25 percent are related to AF.
To enforce the management of stroke prevention in patients with AF, the Department of Medicine of HKU initiated two new measures recently, namely, the AF management app and private doctors AF screening programme, Xinhua news agency reported.
The free new mobile app was designed to help doctors manage their patients with AF. By using the five clinical calculators, namely, stroke risk calculator, major bleeding risk calculator, quality of anticoagulation calculator, likelihood to good quality of anticoagulation calculator, and kidney function calculator, doctors can assess the ischemic stroke risk and major bleeding risk of patients with AF.
Chan Pak-hei, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Medicine, HKU, said the app is user-friendly. Taking the stroke risk calculator as example, doctors only need to enter details of risk factors, such as age, high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiac failure etc., and the app can automatically calculate the risk of stroke each year.
The app not only provides doctors with useful information but also allows patients to understand more about their health condition, enabling doctors to effectively communicate with patients their absolute risk of stroke, balancing that with major bleeding risk, thereby making a rational decision for long-term anti-coagulation with the patients, Chan added.
Patients with AF are often asymptomatic. Early identification of patients at high risk of AF would enable more aggressive primary prevention and targeted intervention, HKU researchers said.
In 2014, HKU collaborated with the Hong Kong Hospital Authority and launched a massive AF screening programme in government outpatient clinic in Hong Kong East Cluster aiming to screen 60,000 patients at high-risk of AF.
To date, nearly 15,000 people received the screening and follow- up works have been in good progress. In order to broaden the coverage to fight stroke in Hong Kong, HKU is going to extend the AF screening program in private sector.
"Although the risk of stroke is higher in AF patients, if they can be identified at an early stage and proper treatment with medicine is given to them, it is believed that two out three AF related strokes can be prevented each year,” David Siu Chung-wah, clinical associate professor in the Department of Medicine, HKU, who leads the new programme said.
"By launching different programmes, we hope to fight stroke and reduce the major burden to the patient, their family, medical system, and the society caused by strokes."