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Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a heart condition that causes irregular heartbeat. It affects up to 1 in 10 people over the age of 65. Atrial fibrillation greatly increases risk of stroke, but treatment with blood thinning (“anticoagulant”) medication can stop this happening. About 10% of strokes happen in people unaware they have atrial fibrillation. Detecting atrial fibrillation can be difficult because it often comes and goes, and may not cause symptoms.

Many clinicians think the NHS should promote atrial fibrillation screening. The UK National Screening Committee has highlighted a lack of evidence that detecting atrial fibrillation in people by screening would benefit them.

For the pilot study We will set up a screening programme in 10 general practices and compare them with 20 non-screening (control) practices.

This will help us to decide if:

  • the screening programme needs refinement;
  • screening is identifying the number of new cases of AF that we expected;
  • sufficient numbers of newly identified people with AF are started on blood thinning (anticoagulation) therapy;
  • screening causes any undue worry in people.

 

Study design Pilot study
Sponsor University of Cambridge, NHS Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group
Ethical approval
Chief investigator Professor Jonathan Mant, University of Cambridge
Main point-of-contact Mr Andrew Dymond, University of Cambridge