MP joins Heart Rhythm Charity call for screening of people at risk of atrial fibrillation (AF)
More than 500,000 people have undiagnosed AF, with more than 11,000 people per year suffering an AF-related stroke- 9% of all ischaemic strokes are caused by unknown AF.
Jim Fitzpatrick, MP for Poplar and Limehouse has pledged to work with the Arrhythmia Alliance and its sister organization, AF Association, to demand the creation of a national screening programme for people over 65 at risk of AF. Currently, more than 500,000 people have undiagnosed AF and are at an increased risk of suffering an AF-related stroke.
At a Know Your Pulse event held in Parliament hosted by the Arrhythmia Alliance and AF Association on Wednesday 16th November, Jim Fitzpatrick MP signed a pledge calling on the UK National Screening Committee to reverse its previous recommendation and to endorse a commissioned National Screening Programme for People over 65 years of age at risk of AF.
This event raised awareness of the importance of a simple manual pulse rhythm check in helping to detect AF, Parliamentarians who attended had a pulse check and an ECG hand-held recording.
Trudie Lobban MBE, Founder & CEO, Arrhythmia Alliance, who hosted the event, said:
“Manual pulse rhythm checks are already mandated in the NHS Health Check but are not being offered to patients by many healthcare professionals, which is why we are calling for a commissioned National Screening Programme for AF. A manual pulse check, is so simple to do, takes less than a minute and does not cost the NHS – but the benefits in preventing AF-related strokes and unnecessary deaths are enormous. Everyone needs to be aware of their pulse and how to manually check for an irregular rhythm.”
Jim Fitzpatrick MP added:
“I was shocked to hear about the numbers of people walking around today completely unaware that they have AF and who could be at risk of a debilitating or life-threatening AF-related stroke. I fully endorse the work of the Arrhythmia Alliance and AF Association and their call for a national screening programme. The pulse rhythm check I had taken showed just how simple and easy it is to identify someone who may have AF.”
AF is the most common heart rhythm abnormality, and is associated with a third of ischaemic strokes, which are typically more severe and debilitating for the patient. Data from stroke registries show that both unknown and untreated or under treated AF is responsible for most of these strokes. The tragedy is that most could be prevented if efforts were directed towards detection of AF before stroke occurs, through screening or case finding, and the provision of oral anticoagulant medications to prevent clots being formed in the heart, dislodging to be carried to an artery of the brain, blocking the circulation and causing an AF-related stroke.
For more information about the Arrhythmia Alliance and AF Association or to sign the pledge, please go to: www.heartrhythmalliance.org