Nationally, it is estimated that nearly 1.4 million people in the UK are affected by atrial fibrillation (AF), and a quarter of these people are unaware that they have AF. AF causes an irregular or abnormally fast heart rate. It increases the risk of stroke by up to five times, with about 12,500 strokes per year directly attributed to AF. Recognising and receiving proper treatment for AF is important because the strokes due to AF are often more severe, with a survival rate of only 50 per cent and a risk of increased disability among those who do survive, compared to those who have a non-AF related stroke. At the age of 40, we all have a one in four lifetime risk of developing AF.
Eleven AHSNs have contributed to the detection of 365 patients with undiagnosed atrial fibrillation, in one year. This means that the equivalent of one stroke per day has been prevented by this work, saving lives, reducing disability, and saving almost £8.5 million to the NHS and social care.