Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a type of cardiac arrhythmia which is caused by irregular electrical activities in the atria. It may occur with no symptoms, but the most common ones associated with it are fainting, palpitations, congestive failure of the heart, or chest pain. The confirmation for AF is obtained by an electrocardiogram which exhibits an absence of the P wave and irregular rate of ventricular contractions. These irregularities in the regular cardio-electric impulses of the sino-atrial node are the result of interference from chaotic electric impulses generating from roots of pulmonary veins consequently leading to the conduction of an irregular heartbeat. Atrial fibrillation based on the severity of the condition is divided into three types namely paroxysmal (symptoms stop within 24 hours), persistent (symptoms continue for more than a week), and permanent (long term) atrial fibrillation. According to WHO, atrial fibrillation is the most common type of arrhythmia. Rising incidence rates of atrial fibrillation triggering diseases such as mitral stenosis, hyperthyroidism, high blood pressure, pulmonary embolus, pneumonia, and obesity are some of the most significant factors responsible for the high prevalence of this disorder.
In patients suffering from AF, the risk of a blood clot forming in the heart and causing a stroke is increased to almost five times than others. The presence of other above-mentioned disorders may increase this risk even further. The general methods of treatment of AF include medications to slow down the heart rate to bring it to a standard sinus rhythm, the use of electrical cardioversions synchronized with the sinoatrial node, or surgical cardiac ablations using catheter-based procedures to prevent the recurrence. To control the risk of blood clot formation and prevent the occurrence of strokes, patients of AF are also required to be treated with blood-thinning and anti-clotting medications. These although decrease the risk of a stroke considerably, but in the process greatly increase risks of internal bleeding, mainly among older patients. The prevalence of AF in a population increases with age. According to WHO, 8% of people over the age of 80 suffer from some form of atrial fibrillation. Chronic AF leads to a small increase in the risk of death. Consequently, the most important factor driving this market is the global aging population combined with the changes in lifestyle increasing the risks of obesity and high blood pressure. Some of the other key factors for the growth of this market include the growing need for minimally invasive procedures, smaller cardiac incisions, and faster post-surgical recovery times.
The market for atrial fibrillation is segmented based on pharmacological and non-pharmacological procedures for its treatment. The pharmacological treatments include anti-arrhythmic and anticoagulant drugs and procedures such as catheter ablation, maze surgery, and electric cardioversion. Surgical catheter ablation includes various procedures of which the most commonly used are radiofrequency and microwave catheter ablation. The reduced size of the cardiac incision and faster recovery from these procedures are the main reasons for their increased application.
Key regions for the said market researched upon in the study include North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and RoW. North America dominated the overall market in terms of share in 2013 owing to the presence of high procedure volumes supported by the presence of sophisticated healthcare infrastructure, high patient awareness, and healthcare expenditure levels.
Key players of this market include Sanofi-Aventis, Biosense Webster Inc., AtriCure Inc., CardioFocus Inc., Boston Scientific Corporation, Bristol-Myers Squibb Corporation, Endoscopic Technologies Inc., St. Jude Medical Inc., Johnson & Johnson Ltd., and Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH. St. Jude Medical Inc. has developed an innovative Endosense’s TactiCath which can provide live feedback about applied pressure during radiofrequency and microwave catheter ablations. With the increase in the application of these procedures, it is expected that TactiCath will also witness a growth in demand.
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