Awareness and early detection key to managing atrial fibrillation

Awareness and early detection key to managing atrial fibrillation
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Awareness and early detection key to managing atrial fibrillation
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Updated 19 November 2020

Awareness and early detection key to managing atrial fibrillation

Awareness and early detection key to managing atrial fibrillation
  • Atrial fibrillation, also known as AFib or AF, can affect adults of any age

Nov. 16 to 22 is Global Atrial Fibrillation Aware Week (GAFAW), an annual awareness week that brings attention to the most common arrhythmia (heart rhythm disorder). 

Atrial fibrillation, also known as AFib or AF, can affect adults of any age.  The currently estimated global prevalence of AFib in adults is between 2 percent and 4 percent, according to the World Stroke Organization. AFib can induce the formation of blood clots and is therefore associated with a high number of complications. Among these, an embolic stroke, a type of stroke that occurs when a blood clot formed elsewhere in the body breaks loose and travels to the brain via the bloodstream, is undoubtedly the main one. 

According to the World Stroke Organization, the risk of stroke increases by almost five-fold in patients suffering from AFib. More than 25 percent of people who experience an AFib-related stroke may not learn of their diagnosis and condition until after suffering the stroke. 

During Global AFib Aware Week, we look at some of the efforts to raise awareness around this condition and improve the gaps in AFib detection across Africa and the Middle East (AfME): 

• Greater awareness – Raising public awareness of AFib across the region and its link to stroke and convening the advocacy community is critical for tackling this health issue. Pfizer continues to work with leading organizations such as Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) among several others to identify the necessary gaps in detection and diagnosis. Pfizer’s awareness programs such as “Matter of Moments” help spread greater awareness for high-risk patients worldwide.

• Technology and health care – The role of technology in facilitating support and care for patients has been evident during the global COVID-19 pandemic. When patients fear going to the doctors for a routine check-up due to the spread of the novel coronavirus, technology solutions such as apps that focus on telehealth prove extremely useful. Many of today’s wearable devices can detect sleep patterns, track different physical activity types, and even monitor your heart rhythm. The next frontier in health-focused consumer technology is providing guidance, along with alerts and data, to interpret information from wearables to help improve the dialogue between patients and doctors during routine clinical care. This is especially meaningful with AFib because its characteristics can make it challenging to detect. As consumer technology and health care continue to converge, potential early AFib detection opportunities are on the rise.

In conclusion, early detection of AFib is crucial to ensure timely management that helps control symptoms and avoid complications for patients later. The appropriate management of AFib, made possible by timely detection and diagnosis, hinges on using all available tools, including evolving technology, research with the potential to change clinical practice, and awareness-raising initiatives to help facilitate productive conversations between patients and their doctors during routine check-ups. 

‘KAUST Challenge’ seeks tech ideas for Hajj & Umrah

Updated 03 December 2020

‘KAUST Challenge’ seeks tech ideas for Hajj & Umrah

‘KAUST Challenge’ seeks tech ideas for Hajj & Umrah

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) has launched a new campaign to catalyze research, innovation, economic development and social prosperity in Saudi Arabia through new crowdsourcing initiatives that challenge local and international talents to identify ideas and solutions that advance the Kingdom’s national priorities and support Vision 2030. With the “KAUST Challenge,” the university is seeking to develop and support bold science, technology, and engineering initiatives that aim to transform the lives of Saudis and develop Saudi talents.

“We wish to draw on the participative power of crowdsourcing to solve problems faced in the Kingdom and the world with the KAUST Challenge,” said Najah Ashry, vice president for strategic national advancement at KAUST. “The speed, flexibility and scalability of crowdsourcing will bring us new science-based ideas and solutions that can be further developed through deep collaboration with players in the Kingdom’s research-development-innovation ecosystem.”

The focus of the inaugural 2020 edition of the KAUST Challenge is on improving the Hajj and Umrah experience for pilgrims from all over the world and on advancing efforts to make Makkah a smart city. The KAUST Challenge will play an active role in advancing one of the Kingdom’s national priorities of better serving the increasing number of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims and improving their experiences in the two holy cities. It will identify and support science- and technology-based ideas and solutions that can move quickly into the market for SR1 million ($266,000) in cash and other prizes. The challenge spans three themes: Healthcare, to increase preventative measures to ensure health and well-being for all pilgrims, a concern augmented by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic; mobility to ensure adequate availability and access to public and private transportation; and crowd management, to enhance infrastructure to meet capacity requirements for large crowds.

To gather valuable inputs from this challenge, KAUST is targeting a wide group of national and international participants to submit their ideas and solutions, including startups (growth stage startups or scaleups with solutions proven by the market), innovators (seed startups and IP-holders with ideas or solutions yet to be fully market tasted), and general public (students, academics, entrepreneurs and individuals in society).

“Advances in high technology can assist in solving the challenges that Hajj and Umrah pilgrims face. We know that people here in Saudi Arabia and across the world have great solutions to contribute,” said Ashry. “We are excited to receive their submissions and to offer our neighbors in Makkah creative and unique ideas that we hope will serve all pilgrims.

Submission to the KAUST Challenge is now open and will run until Jan. 5, 2021 with a virtual final event that will take place on an immersive platform at the end of February 2021, where the three best ideas, one for each theme, will be selected by a panel of qualified judges and one grand prize will be awarded.