Longer and better lives for patients with atrial fibrillation – AFNET/EHRA expert panel published a position paper

Press release

An international panel of experts published recommendations to improve management of atrial fibrillation (AF). The position paper summarizes the results of the 9th AFNET/EHRA consensus conference – a two-day expert meeting which was jointly organized by the German Atrial Fibrillation Network (AFNET) and the European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA) in Münster, Germany, in September 2023. Today the consensus report was presented at the EHRA congress in Berlin by Prof. Dominik Linz, Maastricht, The Netherlands, and simultaneously published in Europace (1).

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common arrhythmia and a growing health problem in an aging society. It affects several million people in Europe and worldwide.

During the 9th AFNET/EHRA consensus conference 83 international interdisciplinary scientists pooled their knowledge on AF management and research and discussed new insights and treatment options. Prof. Linz, first author of the paper, explained: “After two days of fruitful discussion, we merged our findings. The essence of the meeting was summarized in five recommendations.”

1. Active rhythm management should be part of the default initial treatment for all suitable patients with AF.

2. Patients with device-detected AF have a low burden of AF and a low risk of stroke. Anticoagulation prevents some strokes but also increases major but non-lethal bleeding.

3. More research is needed to improve stroke risk prediction in patients with AF, especially in those with a low AF burden. Biomolecules, genetics and imaging can support this.

4. The presence of AF should trigger systematic work-up and comprehensive treatment of concomitant cardiovascular conditions.

5. Machine learning algorithms have been used to improve detection of AF and can help to prevent development of AF. Cooperation between clinicians and data scientists is needed to leverage the potential of data science applications for patients with AF.

Prof. Paulus Kirchhof, Hamburg, Germany, one of the four chairpersons of the conference and board member of AFNET, concluded: “Combining active rhythm control, anticoagulation, rate control, and therapy of concomitant cardiovascular conditions can improve the lives of patients with AF. A low AF burden is associated with low rates of stroke and heart failure. Reducing AF burden is developing into a therapeutic goal in patients with AF.”

Prof. Andreas Goette, Paderborn, Germany, also chairman of the conference and AFNET board member, stated: “We are curious to see whether our recommendations will be incorporated into the upcoming AF guidelines and change clinical practice.”

Participants of the 9th AFNET/EHRA Consensus Conference came from Europe, USA, Canada, and Australia. The meeting was chaired by four cardiologists: Prof. Andreas Goette, Paderborn, Germany, and Prof. Paulus Kirchhof, Hamburg, Germany, both from AFNET, and Prof. Helmut Pürerfellner, Linz, Austria, and Prof. Isabell van Gelder, Groningen, Netherlands, both from EHRA.

The conference was organized and co-financed by AFNET and EHRA with additional financial support from MAESTRIA which is funded under European Union's (EU) Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (grant number 965286). Industry participants paid an attendance fee.



  1. Linz D et al. Longer and better lives for patients with atrial fibrillation: The 9th AFNET/EHRA Consensus Conference. Europace 2024 April 9. DOI: 10.1093/europace/euae070



The Atrial Fibrillation NETwork is an interdisciplinary research network comprising scientists and physicians from hospitals and practices dedicated to improving the management of atrial fibrillation through coordinated research in Germany, Europe, and worldwide. Its main objective is to conduct high quality investigator-initiated clinical trials and registries on a national and international level as well as translational research projects. The AFNET continues the long-term activities of the network which has been funded by the German Federal Ministry of Research and Education over a decade. Since January 2015, specific projects and infrastructures of the AFNET are funded by the German Centre for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK), and some projects by EU research grants. AFNET has long expertise in the management of atrial fibrillation, but also provides support for work in other fields informing cardiovascular care. The results of 20 years of clinical and translational research improved the lives of patients with cardiovascular diseases and influenced treatment guidelines.



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