New Atrial Fibrillation High Impact Intervention Tool to reduce the risk of strokes

Too many people are still living with undetected, high-risk conditions such as high blood pressure, raised cholesterol, and atrial fibrillation (AF).

The NHS Long Term Plan identifies cardiovascular disease as a clinical priority and the single biggest condition where lives can be saved by the NHS over the next 10 years. The Plan sets the ambition for the NHS to help prevent over 150,000 heart attacks, strokes and dementia cases over the next 10 years and outlines how we, and partners in the voluntary and community sector and in other national organisations, will meet this ambition.

AF is an irregular and often fast heart rhythm and is the most common heart rhythm disturbance. Patients with AF have a five-fold higher stroke risk than those without AF (Stroke Association, 2017). Despite the serious impact of AF, it often causes no symptoms, and many people are unaware they have the condition.

The Atrial Fibrillation High Impact Intervention Tool has been developed to support NHS commissioners to measure the value of identifying and treating patients with AF, including the impact of screening and treatment-based interventions. The tool can help commissioners to estimate the budget impact of interventions, creating an exportable business plan for treating AF, to be used locally.

Dr Matt Kearney, National Clinical Director for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention and GP in Shropshire said “This is a great tool. The NHS Long Term Plan prioritises early detection and treatment of CVD and this tool is a step forward in delivering on that and supporting people to live longer, healthier lives.”

“We know that treating AF is very effective at preventing strokes, one of the leading causes of early death and profound disability in England. But we also know a lot of people with AF are not receiving this treatment. The High Impact Intervention Tool will help local areas to identify their gaps and opportunities in AF treatment, and to focus their efforts for maximal impact in preventing strokes.”

The tool has been developed in collaboration with Imperial College Health Partners. Health systems can use this resource as a framework to detect and optimally manage AF in their population, in order to reduce the risk of strokes.