Testing for atrial fibrillation in World Heart Rhythm Week

Eastern AHSN is working with the Stroke Team at Addenbrooke’s Hospital to detect atrial fibrillation using mobile ECG devices

This week, Eastern Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) is celebrating a key milestone in our atrial fibrillation programme. Over the past 6 months we have been supporting NHS England’s national rollout of mobile ECG devices and providing technology across the east of England to prevent 500 strokes and save 125 more lives. This is all part of the national drive to improve the detection of atrial fibrillation, the most common heart rhythm disorder.

Many of the devices distributed are being used for World Heart Rhythm Week events this week to check heart rhythms in hospitals, GP surgeries and at community events. We helped the Stroke Team at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust screen 54 visitors in Addenbrooke’s outpatients last Friday.

Around 420,000 people across England have undiagnosed atrial fibrillation, which can cause stroke if not detected and treated appropriately. New mobile ECG technologies are making huge differences to the NHS and staff in busy services to help them detect and treat this condition in people most at risk – patients with diabetes and other heart conditions including high blood pressure, coronary heart disease and heart failure.

Anyone can get involved in World Heart Rhythm Week to raise awareness. Join in with 3 top tips:

Amanda Buttery, atrial fibrillation programme manager at Eastern AHSN

With increasing numbers of patients being diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, it’s a major challenge to improve treatment and address variations between services in the region. We have been drawing on data in the Atrial Fibrillation Budget Impact Model to focus our attention on areas that could significantly improve heart health in the east of England. Developed by Imperial College Health Partners, the Impact Model helps health service commissioners to identify any potential deficits in current care, the cost impact on the local health economy and the number of strokes that could be prevented.

The model is free to access online, so health professionals can assess where to focus efforts to benefit the local population.

Atrial fibrillation and stroke prevention is a national priority for all of the 15 regional AHSNs in England. We’re working in partnership to share learning, adapt and adopt tools from other areas. The AF toolkit developed by the AHSNs in collaboration with NHS London Clinical Networks has proved popular in our region- it’s designed to support clinicians and commissioners with the right resources to reduce AF-related strokes, providing practical information to drive service improvements. Our atrial fibrillation page provides useful resources for health professionals and patients, including the short film “Anticoagulation with Jack” developed to help people, families and carers understand how blood clots can occur and how anticoagulant medicines work to prevent strokes. In under five minutes, the film helps people understand the condition and the treatment choices available.

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