Doctor holding a mask and stethoscope

Using PR to raise awareness of Atrial Fibrillation (AF)

By James Knight

In 2010 I was diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation (AF) after collapsing in London. AF is the most common irregular heart rhythm, affecting between 2-4% of the world’s population and symptoms can include breathing problems and dizziness. People with AF are five times more likely to have a stroke. In England alone, it is estimated that there are around 300,000 people with undiagnosed AF.

The AF Association was founded by Trudie Lobban MBE FRCP in 1993 and is now established in the UK and USA. It is a registered charity that raises public awareness, supports patients and offers advice and face to face educational events; many of which of course has had to be delayed because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the pandemic, the work of the AF Association continued. They regularly posted on latest medical advice for patients on their website and produced videos for AF patients concerned about Covid. Their patient helpline remained open and operational throughout lockdowns.

During the pandemic, the AF Association have utilised technology to develop tailor-made online events in response to the need for patients to access this information virtually, with more digital services planned for the future. For example, they hosted a series of educational webinars from AF experts, as part of their sister charity’s, Arrhythmia Alliance’s, annual Heart Rhythm Congress Patients Day. Prior to the pandemic, this was an annual in-person event that I would usually attend.

In addition, the AF Association have continued to hold key awareness events online, including during World Heart Rhythm Week (June) and Global AF Aware Week (November). Global AF Aware Week received international coverage through PR, also informing the public via PR to remind people of the importance of knowing your pulse.

There is no doubt the AF Association has embraced modern PR Media and is a brilliant standout example of a charity that keeps in regular contact with its members and prioritises raising awareness of AF amongst the public.

For more information about their work, please visit the AF Association website.

Photo by Ashkan Forouzani via Unsplash

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