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31st January 2022

Integrated Care Clinic at The Heart of Saving Lives

Dr Jeroen Hendriks

Hundreds of people suffering from Atrial Fibrillation (AF) will benefit from a clinical trial underway at the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH), which researchers hope will lead to a reduction in hospitalisations and deaths from this common heart condition.

You may remember reading about Professor Jeroen Hendriks’s new appointment as Cardiovascular Nursing Chair. His role is co funded by The Hospital Research Foundation Group* and Flinders University and is the first academic cardiac nursing role to be established in South Australia.

Since his appointment, he has worked hard to establish an Integrated Care (iCARE) AF Clinic which is based on the concept of integrated care using a patient-centred approach to educate and empower people who have AF.

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 more.

Prof Hendriks has established a multidisciplinary team including a cardiologist, nurse, the patient and their carer, to provide a comprehensive treatment approach.

“Our team identifies risk factors, such as obesity, sleep apnoea, high blood pressure or diabetes and puts in place a comprehensive treatment plan covering these aspects,” Prof Hendriks said.

“The use of new technology also plays a key role, with decision-support technology guiding the clinical team through the care process.

“Patients use an app on their phone or iPad, which provides them with information on AF, the symptoms and treatment, as well as on risk factors and how to modify their lifestyle. They can also input incidents of AF and any other symptoms they are experiencing, which can then be discussed with the iCARE-AF team.”

Expanding Heart Care

Prof Hendriks spent most of 2020 working remotely in his hometown of The Netherlands due to the COVID-19] pandemic. He arrived back in Adelaide at the end of 2020 and since then, he’s been working hard on the clinical trial.

The trial is currently tracking 1,400 AF patients for two years and is underway at two iCARE-AF clinics in metro Adelaide, at the RAH and the Cardiovascular Clinic at Norwood.

In 2017 and 2018 there were over 72,000 hospitalisations for AF in Australia and the condition was associated with 9 per cent of deaths in 2018.

With Prof Hendriks’s research plans, his long-term goal is to implement the clinic at other sites and one day, potentially nationwide!

*AHR is part of The Hospital Research Foundation Group.