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Atrial fibrillation

This programme has now closed but you may find the below resources useful. Please note the information on this webpage was correct at the time of publication:

Strokes are a major cause of death and disability in the UK. Up to a third of strokes are caused by blood clots that form as a result of an irregular heartbeat, particularly atrial fibrillation (AF). These AF-related strokes also tend to be more serious, and have greater impact on patients’ lives than non-AF strokes.

In patients with known AF, anticoagulants can be used to significantly reduce the risk of a stoke occurring. The diagnosis of AF is therefore a key step towards preventing strokes.

AF was selected as one of seven priorities to be adopted and spread across the AHSN Network during 2018-2020. Read more about the AHSN Network and the seven programmes selected here.

The AHSN Network has produced an updated AF Toolkit in July 2020 which you can access here.

A new proactive care framework for Atrial Fibrillation is now available from University College London Partners. It has been designed to help primary care teams work differently at scale.

Under our atrial fibrillation programme there were two workstreams;

  • DETECT – Increasing the detection and diagnosis of AF in the population (case finding).
  • PROTECT – Increasing risk assessment and anticoagulation of people diagnosed with AF.

DETECT

We implemented the DETECT phase of this programme, supporting the drive to identify greater numbers of people living with AF through the distribution of AliveCor Kardia devices. The roll-out of this national programme was evaluated by Wessex AHSN.

PROTECT

Once a patient has been detected as having AF, their risk of stroke can be reduced by taking anticoagulants.

Don’t wait to anticoagulate (DWAC) is one model for improving rates of anticoagulation that was previously used in the West of England. It aims to inform patients with AF of the benefits of taking anticoagulant medication and features a range of toolkits for clinicians, pharmacists and patients to support shared decision making. Within the West of England, DWAC was implemented in Gloucestershire and Bristol, North Somerset & South Gloucestershire. Read the evaluation of DWAC here.

Resources

Read more about the AHSN Network AF programme here.

Read our evaluation case study here.

Wessex AHSN developed the below video, ‘Starting Anticoagulation with Jack’ to help patients, their family and carers after anticoagulants have been prescribed. It explains about clotting and why abnormal clots can form as people age. The different types of medicines are discussed, and Jack and his son talk about Jack’s concerns, side effects and sources of support.