Stroke reduction by digital atrial fibrillation detection

Trials have found that new digital technology could make atrial fibrillation reduction more accessible.

92000

Atrial fibrillation affects 92,000 people in Scotland and a major cause of stroke.

Stroke is the third most common cause of death in Scotland and the most common cause of severe physical disability amongst adults. It is estimated that about 15,000 people in Scotland have a stroke each year.

Research has found that new digital technology – using special devices linked to mobile phones or tablets - could make atrial fibrillation detection more accessible, allowing more people to be identified and treated with medication to reduce the risk of stroke.

Work was needed to assess the effectiveness and benefits of various digital options that allow for screening and management in the community. We have explored these options and have conducted a health economic analysis to compare the efficacy of these devices in current practice.

Detection of atrial fibrillation is a priority for the 'Stroke and Heart Disease Improvement Plans for Scotland'. The work we have undertaken seeks to support the national improvement plans and to improve the treatment of atrial fibrillation in Scotland, helping to prevent strokes.

The National Stroke Improvement Plan for Scotland has set priorities for each health board to address and be measured against.

One of the eight priorities in the plan is secondary prevention, i.e. to improve the identification of patients with atrial fibrillation and ensure they receive effective treatment.

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5%

Hospital care for patients who have had a stroke accounts for 7% of all NHS beds and 5% of the entire NHS budget.

 

We're working with the Scottish Government, NHS Lanarkshire, University of Strathclyde and Edinburgh Napier University, in partnership with companies who provide monitoring tools that monitor and dectect atrial fibrillation.

 

Work to date

Supported by Scottish Government we’ve funded trials across six health boards - NHS Lothian, NHS Fife, NHS Tayside, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, NHS Ayrshire and Arran and NHS Grampian - involving twenty GP practices and over 1200 patients. The trials used a simple hand-held electrocardiogram (ECG) device developed by Kardia, which is compatible with mobile phones or tablets. It costs around £70 per unit, and allows detection within GP practices and immediate access to medical treatment.

ECG recordings from the trial were sent by secure email to a cardiologist to assess if atrial fibrillation was present. Patients with a provisional diagnosis had a more advanced test carried out to confirm is atrial fibrillation was present, resulting in being referred for further treatment. Of the 1805 patients, 92 (5.1%) were identified to have atrial fibrillation.

 

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