24 March 2017
By Sharron Gordon, Pharmacist Consultant Anticoagulation, Faculty Fellow of The Royal Pharmaceutical Society and Wessex AHSN AF lead
Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is the most common sustained cardiac arrhythmia affecting 1-2% of the UK population. AF is affecting approximately 10% of the population over 75 years old and 18% of those over 85 years old. It is a predominant cause of stroke and a serious concern in in our aging population. Clinical outcomes in terms of increased disability are considerably worse for AF-associated stroke and mortality from stroke is doubled in patients with AF.
Around 50% of patients admitted to hospital with a stroke had been diagnosed with AF and were either not treated with an anticoagulant or were being treated with aspirin or other antiplatelet which is insufficient to protect against stroke.
In Wessex alone, there are 39,829 high risk patients with AF not currently on anticoagulation. Finding and treating these patients optimally could lead to 1076 fewer strokes and 358 fewer deaths, leading to £19.5 million hospital admissions costs avoided. This is not dissimilar to any region in England. Finding and caring for these patients is the responsibility of every health professional.
Signs and Symptoms
The biggest challenge with managing and caring for patients with AF is that many do not feel the arrhythmia and may be symptom free, but of course, not free of the risk of stroke.
Other patients may experience:
So What is Going Wrong? Read Sharron's full blog on the RPS website.
You can also find out more about AF work in Wessex here.