Improving guideline adherence in the treatment of atrial fibrillation by implementing an integrated chronic care program
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Background / Objectives. Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a very frequent and complex disease often associated with other medical conditions. The Euro Heart Survey (EHS) on AF showed that adherence to guidelines may reduce morbidity and mortality in AF patients. Therefore a nurse-driven, guideline-based, ICT-supported integrated chronic care program (ICCP) was developed and implemented in daily practice. The objective of this study is to evaluate the clinical feasibility of the ICCP, with guideline adherence as the endpoint.Methods. 111 ambulant patients referred for treatment of their AF were enrolled in the ICCP. In this group, patients underwent standardised clinical testing and were subsequently managed by a nurse, supported by a dedicated ICT program and supervised by cardiologists. For comparison, we used a recent historical control group of 102 patients who participated in the Maastricht part of the Euro Heart Survey (EHS) on AF. Results. Guideline adherence was excellent within the ICCP and compared favourably with the EHS-AF data concerning both clinical testing (trigger factors recorded in 100 vs. 44%; echocardiogram performed in 99 vs. 88%; thyroid-stimulating hormone level recorded in 96% vs. 63%) as well as treatment (antithrombotic therapy in 90 vs. 78%; rhythm control avoided in completely asymptomatic patients in 100 vs. 54%; class I drugs avoided in patients with structural heart disease in 90 vs. 95%; rhythm control avoided in permanent AF patients in 100 vs. 92%). Conclusion. The high level of guideline adherence suggests that a nurse-driven, guideline-based, ICT-supported ICCP for AF patients is feasible. (Neth Heart J 2010;18:471-7.).
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