The personalised care offered by the Royal Adelaide Hospital’s new clinic for a common heart condition is empowering patients to better manage their health and keep them out of hospital.
Run as a clinical trial funded by The Hospital Research Foundation Group, the clinic supports patients with a heart arrythmia known as Atrial Fibrillation (AF).
Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is the most common heart rhythm disorder and is characterised by an irregular and often rapid heart rate that can increase the risk of strokes, heart failure and other heart-related complications.
Yvonne Rech, 64, has AF and describes it as “my heart beating very fast and very erratically, it’s like my heart is flip flopping around in my body”.
She said despite having AF for years, it’s only since she’s been seeing the expert team at the iCARE-AF Clinic that she feels she understands the condition.
“The clinic has been absolutely brilliant,” Yvonne said.
“It’s made me feel better than anything other specialists have given me, the nurses have been absolutely wonderful in providing me with information and making me feel at ease.
“The iCARE-AF team have told me all the things I can do to potentially reduce my AF, like lose weight, lower my blood pressure and they’ve adjusted my medication.
“I never had this information until now, so I am more pro-active with managing it.”
Yvonne said in only six months at the clinic, her AF incidents have reduced from once a fortnight to months apart – and are not as severe.
She said that before attending the clinic, she would call an ambulance for each AF incident.
Now, with her increased knowledge, better management and the reduced frequency – she doesn’t have to take up critical ambulance resources or emergency department beds.
And this would be replicated for many patients across the system!
What is the iCARE-AF Clinic?
The RAH’s iCARE-AF Clinic is being led by Professor Jeroen Hendriks, Professor of Cardiovascular Nursing with Flinders University and the Central Adelaide Local Health Network, with funding from The Hospital Research Foundation Group.
The ‘i’ stands for ‘integrated care’ and uses a patient-centred approach to educate and empower people with AF and support them in self-managing their care.
“A multidisciplinary team including a cardiologist, nurse, the patient and their carer, provides a comprehensive treatment approach,” Prof Hendriks said.
“This covers four areas:-
1 – A patient-centred approach which includes spending more time educating the patient and working with them to provide a personalised approach in managing the risk factors that are achievable for them,
2 – bringing in a multi-disciplinary team with significant roles for nurses, and better coordinating care,
3 – delivering a comprehensive treatment approach that includes steps to prevent stroke, managing the arrythmia and addressing the underlying risk factors,
And 4 – using technology to support the integrated approach. We have developed clinical decision support technology that helps decision making and guides the health care team and patients in their care.”
“Hopefully we can show the effectiveness of this integrated approach and it will become standard care.”
Do you have AF?
The team is searching for up to 1400 people with AF to participate in the iCARE-AF trial – believed to be the only one of its kind in Australia. It mirrors a European care model that has demonstrated significant reductions in hospitalisation and mortality.
Participants are part of the trial for two years, with regular appointments.
The iCARE-AF Clinic is currently being offered at the RAH and the Cardiovascular Centre at Norwood. The team also hopes to implement the clinic at other sites, including The Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Flinders Medical Centre.
In 2017 and 2018 there were over 72,000 hospitalisations for AF in Australia and the condition was associated with 9% of deaths in 2018.
For more information to participate in the iCARE-AF Clinic, call 0479 183 383.
The iCARE-AF team consists of:
- Professor Jeroen Hendriks, Professor of Cardiovascular Nursing with the Caring Futures Institute, College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Flinders University and the Central Adelaide Local Health Network and Flinders University
- Professor Prashanthan Sanders, Director of Cardiac Electrophysiology and Pacing, Central Adelaide Local Health Network and the Centre for Heart Rhythm Disorders at the University of Adelaide
- Cardiac nurses: Gemma Wilson, Emma D’Arcy, and Donald Olson
- Clinical trial support team: Sara Noonan, Danielle Wlochowicz, and Anthony Hoan