Oct. 10 (UPI) -- Researchers have developed new smartphone and tablet apps to help patients with atrial fibrillation and their doctors better manage their condition.
"Around two-thirds of people in Europe and the U.S. have a mobile device and use it as their main way of accessing online information," Dr. Dipak Kotecha, a clinician scientist in cardiovascular medicine at the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, University of Birmingham, said in a press release. "This presents a big opportunity to improve self management and shared decision making in atrial fibrillation."
Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm disorder, with one in four middle-age adults in the United States and Europe will develop the disorder. Patients with atrial fibrillation are at increased risk of stroke and death.
The study, published today in EP Europace, showed how the My AF and AF Manager apps, designed by the European Society of Cardiology Guidelines Task Force on Atrial Fibrillation and the CATCH ME consortium, can be used to help improve patient outcomes.
The My AF app provides information about atrial fibrillation, related risk of stroke, treatment and methods for an improved lifestyle. The app allows patients to track symptoms and effects on quality of life that can be shared with doctors before a visit.
"The app aims to encourage active patient involvement in the management of their condition," Kotecha said. "There is evidence that patient education can improve self-care, adherence to therapy, and long-term outcomes."
AF Manager is an app designed for doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals and imports information shared by the patient, allowing care providers to amend details and enter additional medical data.
The app also includes a Treatment Manager tool that suggests treatment options based on ESC guidelines, and allows for information to be sent back to the patient app to increase understanding and make it easier to comply with doctor instructions.
"Many studies have shown that when clinicians follow guideline recommendations, patients have better outcomes," Kotecha said. "All of the decision aids in AF Manager are based on ESC guidelines so we hope this will encourage guideline implementation. Patients will have the option to anonymously donate their data which will enable us to assess the guideline adherence rate."
The apps are free for iOS devices in Apple's App Store and for Android devices in the Google Play store.