73 lives saved across East Midlands thanks to drive to reduce strokes

Latest figures show an additional 6,247 people across the East Midlands have been diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation – a leading cause of serious stroke – and 5,510 more are receiving therapy, thanks to a major drive to improve detection and protection.

The latest NHS figures cover a one year period up to and including March 2019, and focus on the detection and protection of Atrial Fibrillation (AF). AF is one of the most common forms of abnormal heart rhythm and a common cause of stroke and is the third biggest cause of premature death in the UK. Every 15 seconds someone suffers an AF-related stroke, yet most can be prevented using appropriate anticoagulation therapy.

Around 220 strokes have been avoided and 73 lives saved in the last year across the East Midlands thanks to the programme to diagnose and protect more patients.

The pioneering initiative was launched in 2015 and is a partnership between NHS England and NHS Improvement and public health partners across the region, led by the East Midlands Academic Health Science Network (EMAHSN), the East Midlands Clinical Network, Public Health England East Midlands, Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), Health Education England (HEE), NHS Right Care, Applied Research Collaboration (ARC), The British Heart Foundation, Heart Rhythm Alliance and The Stroke Association.

Between 2015 and March 2019, it is estimated that the programme has saved 574 lives and helped prevent more than 1,700 people across the East Midlands from suffering a life-changing AF-related stroke.

In addition to the impact on people’s lives, the programme has also enabled significant financial efficiencies for the region’s health and social care system – amounting to an estimated £33.5 million (which includes £4.27 million for a year period up to March 2019).

The initiative aims to improve the diagnosis of patients with AF by making detection devices available, operating training and learning initiatives for healthcare professionals and raising awareness of diagnosis and anticoagulation opportunities.

The latest data shows that:

  • Between March 2018 and March 2019, 6,247 additional people were diagnosed with AF
  • In addition to diagnosis, there is a national target for 84% of high risk AF patients to be placed on anticoagulation therapy by March 2020 – all 19 Clinical Commissioning Groups in the East Midlands have already met this target, one year early
  • The East Midlands has the highest anticoagulation treatment rate of any region in England.

The East Midlands Academic Health Science (EMAHSN) is one of 15 AHSNs nationwide, which operate as the innovation arm of the NHS.

Across all AHSNs delivering the initiative in England, the latest NHS data shows that for the year up to March 2019:

  • An addition 61,000 people were diagnosed with AF and added to the national AF register
  • This is estimated to have saved 791 lives and avoided 3,165 people suffering AF-related strokes

Since the national initiative started in 2015 an estimated 2,288 lives have been saved across England and 9,152 strokes avoided.

Dr Nigel Sturrock, Medical Director (Midlands) at NHS England and NHS Improvement said:

“Stroke can be absolutely devastating both for the patient and their family, and better detection and treatment of high-risk cardiovascular conditions like Atrial Fibrillation is critical to avoiding stroke and saving lives.

“NHS and public health organisations across the East Midlands have been working together for a number of years on this important initiative and the latest data shows the positive impact this is having with many hundreds of lives saved.

‘There is also a benefit to the health and care system by reducing hospital admissions and social care costs related to stroke.”

Nicole McGlennon, Managing Director at the East Midlands Academic Health Science Network said:

“We are delighted with these results which highlight the hard work and dedication from Clinical Commissioning Groups and GP practices and other vital support teams across the East Midlands to improve detection and management of AF.

“Over the past two year’s all 15 AHSNs across England have worked in their regions to deliver the AF programme and it is encouraging to be able to see the impact this programme has had. Thinking about this in terms of the patients who have avoided AF-related strokes really brings home the importance of these improvement programmes.”