Screenshot 2015-09-06 11.38.25

Atrial fibrillation is one of the most frequent heart rate conditions, particularly affecting the elderly. If undiagnosed in due time and untreated, it can lead to stroke, a vascular accident with catastrophic, sometimes even fatal, consequences. It is estimated that about 200,000 people suffer from atrial fibrillation in Romania. 65,000 Romanians have a stroke each year.

Against this backdrop, together with the National Patients’ Protection Association and in partnership with the National Family Medicine Society, the Romanian Cardiology Society and the Romanian Neurology Society, we launched the “Happy Hearts Parks” campaign, the first nation-wide initiative for atrial fibrillation screening. Through a simple, effective idea we aimed to get the physicians out of their offices and bring them to public parks, to encourage interaction with the patients and explain to the people how the heart works and how important it is to care for it properly.

In October, one by one, Cluj-Napoca’s Central Park, the Rose Park in Timisoara and Bucharest’s Cismigiu Garden turned into “Happy Hearts Parks”, where all those interested were assessed by cardiologists for carScreenshot 2015-09-06 11.38.41diovascular risk through EEGs, blood pressure and heart rate measurements. The most important print and online publications, as well as television channels and radio stations, covered the campaign topics. Overall, about 2.5 million people were exposed to the messages of the campaign. At the end, the National Patients’ Protection Association requested the inclusion of atrial fibrillation among the priorities of the National Healthcare Strategy.

Screenshot 2015-09-06 11.38.33Two elements were the foundation of the success of the campaign. First of all, the fact that doctors and medical personnel went themselves to the patients and created a direct relationship, in a user-friendly setting like a park, and secondly the 3D reconstruction of a heart, which drew a lot of attention and raised the interest of patients and the media. Throughout the campaign over 1,200 people were tested for heart disease at the points of information placed in the three parks. Of these, 7% were diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, while almost 60% were at risk of developing heart disease, according to the tests carried out.