NHS rolls out new tech to prevent 3,650 strokes, save 900 lives and £81M annually
Innovative technology – including AliveCor’s Kardia Mobile ECG device – is being rolled out across the country to prevent strokes, as part of a national campaign led by England’s Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs).
More than 6,000 devices including mobile electrocardiogram (ECG) units are being distributed to GP practices, pharmacies and NHS community clinics across England during National Heart Month this February. The range of tech being rolled out can detect irregular heart rhythm quickly and easily, enabling NHS staff to refer any patients with irregular heart rhythms for follow up as they could be at risk of severe stroke.
The rollout is being unveiled during National Heart Month, which raises awareness of heart conditions and encourages everyone to make small changes towards a healthier lifestyle.
Experts estimate that more than 420,000 people across England have undiagnosed irregular heart rhythm, which can cause a stroke if not detected and treated appropriately, usually through blood-thinning medication to prevent clots that lead to stroke.
AliveCor’s Kardia Mobile ECG device is one of five innovative technologies being rolled out as part of this nationwide initiative. Using a compatible smartphone or tablet device, Kardia Mobile is able to record the electrical activity of the heart through a person’s fingertips. The connected app delivers an accurate electrocardiogram (ECG) reading to a device in less than 30 seconds and will indicate whether a person has possible AF. The app allows heart rhythm recordings to be viewed, saved and shared with healthcare professionals (HCP) allowing for faster detection and diagnosis of AF.
“Introducing this innovative technology to GP surgeries and hospitals gives healthcare professionals a quick and simple way of recording an ECG without the need to send a patient to hospital. Due to the size of Kardia Mobile patients can even take the device away from a consultation. Patients can record their heart’s electrical activity whenever. The device can be used at any time, regardless if they show signs of symptoms or not. This ultimately means AF can be diagnosed faster, anticoagulation therapy can be prescribed to reduce the risk of an AF-related stroke and treatment for AF can be accelerated,” said Trudie Lobban MBE, Founder and CEO at Arrhythmia Alliance & AF Association.
Professor Gary Ford, Stroke Physician and lead on the project for the Academic Health Science Networks said:
“More than 420,000 people throughout England are unaware they have irregular heart rhythms and of the dangers that this can pose to their health. We have highly effective treatments that can prevent these strokes, but early detection is key. Using cost-effective technology, the NHS will now be able to identify people with irregular heart rhythms quickly and easily. This will save lives.
“As the NHS approaches its 70th birthday this year, this is also a great reminder of the way that healthcare is continually evolving and innovating. Taking advantage of digital health solutions will be even more important for the next 70 years. Today’s new devices are just one example of the way that low-cost tech has the potential to make a huge difference.”
One million people in the UK are known to be affected by AF and an additional 422,600 people are undiagnosed. As the most common type of irregular heart rhythm, it is responsible for approximately 20% of all strokes. Survivors must live with the disabling consequences and treating the condition costs the NHS over £2.2 billion each year.
The public are being encouraged to spread the word about irregular heart rhythm and urge friends and family – particularly those aged over 65 – to check their pulse and see a GP if it is irregular. Pulse checks can be done manually (a British Heart Foundation video and guide shows how here) or through new technology, with irregular rhythms investigated further by healthcare professionals.
The hashtag being used to help raise awareness is #KnowYourPulse