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NICE: Doctors could help prevent 8,000 strokes each year

Friday 5th August 2016
UK doctors are being urged to take action to help prevent up to 8,000 strokes per year. Image: didesign021
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    UK doctors are being asked to do their bit to submit data to their local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in order to better record the number of people under their care who are at risk of a stroke.

    By letting CCGs know which of their patients suffers from atrial fibrillation - a condition that causes an irregular heartbeat, increasing a person's risk of stroke - GPs could potentially save as many as 8,000 lives in Britain each year.

    This is according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which has announced a series of new indicators for doctors to bear in mind when treating patients with heart conditions.

    Under the new guidance, CCGs will be required to keep note of how many patients in their area have experienced a stroke in the past but have not been receiving recommended treatments, such as blood-thinning medicine, to keep atrial fibrillation at bay.

    What's more, NICE is concerned that up to 47,000 adults in the UK may be unknowingly living with the heart condition, meaning they won't necessarily be taking the correct measures to lower their risk of suffering a stroke.

    As a result, doctors will be required to routinely test over-65s for signs of atrial fibrillation, before discussing treatment options with anyone who is deemed to be at risk of either developing this condition or succumbing to a stroke.

    To begin with, the measurement of these indicators will take place in 30 GP practices across the country, but if they prove successful in reducing strokes and related fatalities, NICE is considering rolling them out on a nationwide basis from 2017-18.

    Professor Danny Keenan, chair of the indicator advisory committee and associate medical director at Central Manchester University Hospitals, commented: "Effective treatment of atrial fibrillation can be the difference between life and death. These indicators will help to identify where people with atrial fibrillation have slipped through the cracks and are not receiving the best treatment.

    "It is only with data that we can properly assess the steps needed to ensure no one at risk is left unchecked or untreated."

    Written by James Puckle

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