February is Heart Month - The new Programme FA-CILITER aims to optimize care given to Quebec patients suffering from atrial fibrillation

MONTREAL, Feb. 3, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - Current estimates reveal that in Quebec, nearly 70,000 patients suffer from atrial fibrillation (AF)1. Furthermore, most of these patients are not managed within an integrated and structured healthcare system. This situation has serious consequences on patient care, as well as the use of resources within Quebec's healthcare system. With the onset of Heart Month, a group of healthcare professionals in Quebec have launched the new Programme FA-CILITER, which stands for Atrial fibrillation in an integrated clinic to limit thromboembolic events (Fibrillation Auriculaire dans une Clinique Intégrée pour LImiTer les évènEments thRombo-emboliques) at Hotel Sofitel Montréal. Programme FA-CILITER is a two-year pilot project aiming to better care for patients suffering from AF, the most common heart rhythm disorder, as well as promote best medical practices based on the Canadian Cardiovascular Society's AF guidelines.

As explained by Dr. Thao Huynh, cardiologist at the McGill University Health Centre, as well as the founder and Head Coordinator of Programme FA-CILITER: "Programme FA-CILITER is the first structured, interdisciplinary program for the treatment of atrial fibrillation in Quebec. We are particularly excited by the opportunity to implement this program, which addresses a very real need within the healthcare network. The current healthcare structure is disorganized: a patient can be diagnosed and/or treated for AF by a variety of healthcare professionals (general practitioner, cardiologist, electrophysiologist, hematologist, internist, neurologist or emergency doctor). Communication between these healthcare professionals is often not optimal, resulting in only 25% of Canadians with high-risk AF currently benefiting from adequate protection against strokes2."

A provincial cohort of healthcare professionals, coordinated by an executive committee comprised of Quebec's four medical faculties and their affiliated centres has implemented Programme FA-CILITER in 14 Quebec hospitals. Together, they seek to register over 4,000 patients with AF in the coming year.

"I consider myself lucky to be alive, says Richard Deslandes, engineer and general contractor. On July 7, 2009, I had a stroke due to atrial fibrillation, which paralyzed my left side and caused me to fall to the floor, unable to get up. As destiny would have it, I had the stroke at home, with my wife at my side. If it had happened just an hour later, I would've been balancing on beams at my construction site. Needless to say, a stroke then would've probably been fatal!" In hindsight, Mr. Deslandes is fully aware that he was already exhibiting some signs of his condition. Indeed, barely three months prior, he noticed that his heart was beating irregularly; he was showing symptoms of AF. "I'm thrilled by the launch of Programme FA-CILITER which will give thousands of AF patients access to the proper resources and help them better understand this illness, its symptoms and its treatments. I would have really benefited from such a program."

The prevalence of atrial fibrillation has reached significant proportions and its impact on public health is considerable3. AF currently affects nearly 70,000 Quebecers, and close to 8,000 of them are admitted to hospitals due to this condition every year. Those with AF are five times more likely to suffer from a stroke and twice as likely to die from one as stroke victims without AF. Furthermore, the risk of having a stroke due to AF goes up past age 607.

In light of the aging population, the number of people with AF could become more prevalent, leading to increased demand for treatment and greater pressure on Quebec's healthcare system8. Improving access to services for those suffering from chronic illnesses is one of several priorities addressed in the 2010-2015 strategic plan published by the ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux du Québec9. In light of this context, the importance of implementing Programme FA-CILITER becomes clear.

About Programme FA-CILITER
Fibrillation Auriculaire dans une Clinique Intégrée pour LImiTer les évènEments thRombo-emboliques

Programme FA-CILITER includes three main areas of focus:

1) A guide for managing AF patients, developed according to the Canadian Cardiovascular Society's atrial fibrillation guidelines, will take into account the criteria for medication reimbursement in Quebec and will be implemented in 14 participating healthcare centers in Quebec.

2) The establishment of a knowledge transfer network between the institutions and the community in order to ensure optimization of exemplary practices and the use of resources in Quebec. This network will be established by various means of communication, notably a website, a Programme FA-CILITER toolkit, education and awareness programs for healthcare professionals, patient education, etc.

3) Patient education and coordination provided by a liaison nurse within each centre, who will be responsible for educating patients and coordinating care according to the treatment guide, under a physician's supervision. Thus, in addition to informing patients, the nurse will act as a link between the various healthcare professionals (doctors, pharmacists, etc.) who are participating in the treatment and will follow-up with AF patients.

Participating centres:
Montreal (MUHC, CHUM, Hôpital du Sacré-Cœur, Jewish General Hospital, Cité-de-la-Santé Hospital, Lakeshore General Hospital - to be confirmed), Quebec (IUCPQ, CHA-Enfant-Jésus, CHUQ-Hôtel-Dieu, and Hôtel-Dieu de Lévis), Sherbrooke (CHUS), Joliette (CH régional de Lanaudière - Joliette), Trois-Rivières (CHRTR) and Saint-Georges de Beauce (Saint-Georges Hospital).

Members of the FA-CILITER executive committee:
Dr. Félix Alejandro Ayala-Paredes, CHUS    Dr. Teresa Kus, HSCM
Dr. Vidal Essebag, MUHC     Dr. Martine Montigny, Hôpital de la Cité-de-la-Santé
Dr. Richard Essiambre, Hôpital de la Cité-de-la-Santé  Dr. Gilles O'Hara, IUCPQ
Dr. Isabelle Greiss, CHUM     Dr. François Philippon, IUCPQ
Dr. Thao Huynh, MUHC and instigator    Dr. Jean-Marc Raymond, CHUM
Dr. Jean-François Sarrazin, IUCPQ

With the support of Boehringer Ingelheim's commitment as a health solutions provider, this project was made possible.

For more information on the Canadian Cardiovascular Society's AF guidelines - http://www.onlinecjc.ca/article/S0828-282X(10)00008-5/fulltext.

2Humphries KH, Jackevisius C, Gong Y, Svensen L, Cox J, Tu JV, Laupacis A. Population rates of atrial fibrillation/flutter in Canada. Can J Cardiol 2004;20:869-76.
3David J. Gladstone, Esther Bui, et al. Potentially Preventable Strokes in High-Risk Patients With Atrial Fibrillation: Stroke. 2008; 1.
6Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. Stroke Report Card 2009.
http://www.heartandstroke.on.ca/site/c.pvI3IeNWJwE/b.5232131/k.E66/2009_Stroke_Report_Card__full_report.htm (page accessed on August 24, 2011)
7Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. Stroke Report Card 2009.
http://www.fmcoeur.on.ca/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=pkI0L9MMJpE&b=4879575&ct=7085627 (page accessed on July 5, 2010)
8Plan stratégique du ministère de la Santé et des Services du Québec. 
http://www.santepop.qc.ca/fichier.php/603/Plan%20strat%20MSSS%202010-2015.pdf page accessed on January 19,  2011)


For further information:

Massy Forget Langlois Public Relations
Valérie Ladouceur / Bridget Ann Peterson
514 842-2455, ext. 15 / 26

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