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On the occasion of Heart Rhythm Week, the Belgian Heart Rhythm Association (BeHRA) in association with FibriCheck is organising a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of remote heart rhythm monitoring for 10,000 people who are at risk.

Firmly convinced of the added value brought by digital tools such as FibriCheck, BeHRA is kicking off a nationwide awareness campaign that will enable 10,000 people with a heightened CHA2DS2-VASc score to use the FibriCheck app for an entire week. This will allow them to check their heart rhythm at regular intervals, thereby avoiding the potential health hazards that come with undiagnosed atrial fibrillation, the most common heart rhythm disorder which increases the risk of thrombosis or stroke fivefold.

“Over the 12 years we have been up and running, we have enabled over 100,000 Belgians to have their heart rate checked in hospital during Heart Rhythm Week. This year, the public health crisis prompted us to reinvent ourselves: Belgians will still be able to check their heart rate, only this time on a remote basis”, explains Dr Johan Vijgen, cardiologist at Hasselt’s Jessa Hospital and BeHRA vice-president.

Covid-19 impact

It has been just over a year now since Covid-19 put all our daily lives on hold. With the light at the end of the tunnel now shining increasingly brighter, this is also the perfect time to take stock of the situation. So what are the conclusions of this evaluation? First of all there is the finding that, alongside the direct victims of the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of people have also been affected indirectly.

For one thing, we witnessed a clear fall in the number of people who went to see the doctor last year, which meant that heart rhythm disorders were diagnosed less often and less swiftly.

“We noticed a substantial drop in the number of cardiology consultations, which for one thing is attributed to people being afraid to go out to see their doctor or to go into hospital out of fear of catching the virus in these settings, and for another thing to the large number of medical examinations and consultations which healthcare practitioners have been forced to postpone due to a lack of availability,” explains Dr Ivan Blankoff, cardiologist at Charleroi University Hospital and BeHRA president.

The importance of eHealth applications such as FibriCheck

It goes without saying that monitoring your heart rhythm is a good idea, whatever the circumstances. However, the context of the pandemic has only hit home the importance of a eHealth tool like FibriCheck. The app not only detects atrial fibrillation, it also allows family doctors and cardiologists to remotely monitor at-risk patients without this requiring a check-up every time.

“With FibriCheck, we have been leading the way for a number of years now as a pioneer in the area of digital health screening. We were quick to gear our solution to suit the needs of the medical world. The COVID crisis only confirmed the pertinence of our technology, where we were able to very quickly scale things up through the TeleCheck-AF programme across the whole of Europe so as to enable remote care”, FibriCheck’s CEO Lars Grieten comments. “Thanks to BeHRA’s leadership position, we are now also able to field our solution on a large scale to identify the undetected health hazards of heart rhythm disorders as a result of the care postponed during the COVID crisis. We hope this campaign will raise awareness among the population at large, thereby enabling us to help people who are not aware they face increased risk”.

About Heart Rhythm Week

For further details, please see www.mijnhartritme.be (Dutch only) and the campaign’s dedicated Facebook page.

About BeHRA

BeHRA was set up in 1980 as a working group of the Belgian Society of Cardiology (Belgische Vereniging voor Cardiologie), which brings together cardiologists who specialise in heart rhythm disorders.

The society’s primary mission is to improve the delivery of care to patients with heart disease by organising scientific events for cardiologists, training courses for doctors and healthcare staff, and awareness campaigns aimed at the general public. In addition to supporting scientific research in this discipline, BeHRA draws on its expertise to promote better healthcare, working in tandem with the authorities.

Go to www.behra.eu for further details about the campaign.

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