Alenka Brzulja

Vice President of Cardiovascular & Specialty Solutions EMEA, Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies. Alenka joined Johnson & Johnson more than 20 years ago and has held several roles of increasing local and regional responsibility across Johnson & Johnson sectors.  

In her current role, Alenka leads Biosense Webster, Cerenovus and Mentor companies which develop innovative technologies in the field of cardiac arrhythmias treatment, ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke treatment and breast surgery. 

Alenka holds an Economics degree from the University of Ljubljana and obtained her MBA from Hofstra University in New York. She resides in Slovenia with her family.

This blog is part of a blog series that s howcases the medtech role in the different phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read here more COVID-19 related blogs. More info on MedTech Europe's info hub . Before COVID-19 hit, there were around 11 million people across Europe living with atrial fibrillation (AF). As many as one in four people over the age of 40 will develop AF, which is characterised by an irregular and often fast heart rhythm. It is a chronic condition that severely affects a person’s quality of life, and more than doubles an AF patient’s likelihood of suffering from a stroke. Unlike stroke, the symptoms of AF are less-well known and more difficult to identify, often going undiagnosed, with up to 30% of patients not experiencing any symptoms. With almost 900,000 new diagnoses each year, AF is a serious and growing health problem. This week is World Heart Rhythm Week (WHRW2020), led by Arrhythmia Alliance and the message this year, is simple: ‘Don’t Miss A Beat’. As with all heart conditions, prevention and early diagnosis should be the priority.Sadly, with the onset of COVID-19, access to diagnosis and treatments for many conditions has been delayed or reduced. Meaning many AF patients are going undetected and untreated for longer. However, as lockdown measures begin to lift and healthcare systems reopen, many hospitals will be looking at how they can address the growing number of patients – is unlocking efficiency the answer? Treating more patients by improving efficiency Before the pandemic, some healthcare systems across Europe were already feeling the pressure; long waiting lists, shortages in capacity, aging populations and a reduction in government spending. Some of these pressures have now intensified following the pandemic. Strategic partnerships between the medical technology industry and healthcare organisations may enable hospitals to...
Our recently published report examining the available treatment options for Atrial Fibrillation (AF) across Europe has found that millions of patients suffering with the condition don’t have access to a potentially life-saving treatment — catheter ablation therapy. Currently, 11 million people in Europe are affected by AF, a condition characterized by an irregular and often fast heart rhythm that results in an uncoordinated contraction of the top two chambers of the heart. This arrhythmia increases the risk of other potentially fatal conditions, leading to five times the risk of heart failure, an increase in the risk of stroke cardiovascular mortality. Despite these worrying statistics, the seriousness of AF is critically misunderstood, with a significant percentage of patients mistakenly believing it not life-threatening. Treatment of AF focuses on managing the irregular heart rhythm, improving symptoms and reducing complications — with the overarching aim of improving life expectancy and quality of life. Amongst the options available for the long-term management of AF patients in Europe are antiarrhythmic drugs (AADs) and the aforementioned catheter ablation. The report , which reviewed independent studies of current treatments, highlighted that just half of patients (52%) are well-managed by AADs yet, despite this, only 4% of eligible patients receive catheter ablation — a treatment that’s considered almost 10 times more effective in delaying AF progression than AADs. And this is not the only data about catheter ablation in the report that’s worth flagging — the potential positive results brought about by this particular treatment option are far-reaching, touching efficacy, quality of life, Adverse Events and healthcare costs. Let’s look at these statistics in more detail. There are sustained results with up to 94% patients free from arrhythmia recurrence after one year and 48% free from arrhythmia after four years. There is a greater improvement in patients’ quality...