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Case study: patient awareness of atrial fibrillation

Developing an educational tool to act as a media hook for World Heart Rhythm Week 2010

Published: 16 Feb 2012

know your pulse

The campaign highlighted the symptoms and risk of cardiac arrhythmias.

Client: Arrhythmia Alliance, The Heart Rhythm Charity

Agency: Cohn & Wolfe

Campaign: World Heart Rhythm Week 2010

Timescale: June 2010

A quick look

The Arrhythmia Alliance wanted to develop a new, consumer friendly educational tool that would act as a media hook for World Heart Rhythm Week 2010 and help drive awareness of a poorly known, common and potentially deadly heart condition called Atrial Fibrillation. Cohn & Wolfe supported the Arrhythmia Alliance to develop a pan-European media campaign that harnessed digital technology to drive interest and awareness across key audiences. The campaign reached nearly 80 million people, resulted in more than 200,000 downloads from the Arrhythmia Alliance’s website and a 25 per cent uplift in website visits during the campaign period.


Around 46,000 new cases of atrial fibrillation are diagnosed each year in the UK, which cause about 12,500 strokes each year. Improving diagnosis and anticoagulation therapy would prevent approximately 4,500 strokes each year and 3,000 deaths.
The Arrhythmia Alliance, the heart rhythm charity, runs an awareness-raising campaign ‘Know Your Pulse’ that aims to highlight the symptoms and risk of cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death (SCD) to the general public.

The challenge is to come up with new and valuable patient tools that help to keep the campaign fresh and that raise awareness of the importance of pulse checking because it may identify an abnormal heart rhythm such as atrial fibrillation.


The Arrhythmia Alliance worked with Cohn & Wolfe to develop a pan-European campaign for World Heart Rhythm Week (June 7 to 13, 2010) that utilises digital and online technology as a smart platform to engage key audiences, educate them and help increase diagnosis of heart arrhythmias.

A simple yet informative i-Phone and online app was developed to guide people through the process of pulse taking while also communicating Arrhythmia Alliance’s key messages about cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death in a consumer-friendly manner.

The app development was made possible by a grant from the Medtronic Foundation.

The i-Phone and online app was launched to the media via a press release and media backgrounder that reiterated the communications campaign key messages.

Leading medical specialists from countries around the world gave media interviews to support the educational messages.


  • 269 articles were generated worldwide including online, national regional and broadcast media including key messages and KOL quotes
  • An audience of over 78,900,000 reached. 203,098 online and 1,550 i-phone apps downloaded to date
  • 89,135 visits to the A-A website recorded during World Heart Rhythm Week 2010 (an increase of 25 per cent)
  • The app is in the process of being updated so that it can show heart rhythm as well as heart rate thanks to a grant from Boehringer-Ingelheim.

Client verdict

“The iPhone App for ‘Know Your Pulse’ was a very successful way of engaging the media in the urgent issue of cardiac arrhythmias during World Heart Rhythm week, generating a high level of coverage. More than this, we have been delighted with the increased patient awareness, measured by downloads of the app itself. We are delighted with its success to date and excited about the opportunity to update the App for 2012.”

Trudie Lobban, Founder & Director at Atrial Fibrillation Association, Trustee at Arrythmia Alliance

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