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Kirchhof, Paulus; Goette, Andreas; Näbauer, Michael and Schotten, Ulrich (2016): 12 Jahre AFNET. Vom Forschungsnetzwerk zur Academic Research Organisation. In: Bundesgesundheitsblatt-Gesundheitsforschung-Gesundheitsschutz, Vol. 59, No. 4: pp. 514-522

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The whole is greater than the sum of its parts (Aristotle). Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common sustained arrhythmia and affects 1-2 % of the population in developed countries, especially the elderly. We expect that the prevalence of AF will double in the next few decades. The last decades have seen important improvements in the management of atrial fibrillation, but many questions remain regarding the optimal diagnosis and management of the condition. The German Atrial Fibrillation NETwork (AFNET) was one of three cardiovascular competence networks in medicine funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research between 2003-2014. AFNET has contributed to the understanding of atrial fibrillation, and AFNET-led studies have led to improved clinical practices and practice guidelines in Germany and in Europe. This work has been expanded and is continuing in the AFNET association (AFNET e. V.). The AFNET association, founded in 2010 and continuing to this day, has developed into a small but fully formed academic research organisation that conducts investigator-initiated clinical trials as the responsible sponsor in Germany, Europe, and beyond. The AFNET association currently cooperates with EHRA (The European Heart Rhythm Association), ESC (The European Society of Cardiology) and DZHK (The German Centre for Cardiovascular Research) and receives funding from the European Union to generate evidence that can in the future lead to better prevention and management of AF.

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