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News & Views

Screening for atrial fibrillation

Professor Ben Freedman (Heart Research Institute, University of Sydney, Australia) presented the latest evidence on atrial fibrillation (AF) screening.

He said that “recent studies have shown that in 9% of all ischaemic strokes, AF is only detected after the stroke has occurred. AF is often asymptomatic, and therefore unknown in a large proportion of people who have it. If we could detect AF before stroke occurs by screening, and give anti-clotting medication, many strokes could be prevented.”

“From our studies using a single time point we identified that 1.4% of people over the age of 65 have unknown AF, and that if left untreated, these patients, believed to have ‘benign’ AF, have an annual risk of stroke between 3-4%. We believe that this data added to the knowledge from a number of international registries combined with studies on community-based screening reinforce the need for the screening of people over 65 years of age to detect unknown AF,” continued Professor Freedman.

Trudie Lobban MBE, CEO & Founder Arrhythmia Alliance, added, “In the UK, we know that there are over half a million people with undiagnosed AF, who are at risk of suffering a debilitating AF-related stroke. Arrhythmia Alliance, together with AF Association and the All Party Parliamentary Group on AF, are urging the UK National Screening Committee to reconsider its decision from 2014 to not approve a screening programme for AF. We welcome the excellent work being driven by Professor Freedman to provide the evidence-base needed to convince authorities, such as the National Screening Committee, of the unquestionable value of national screening programmes to identify unknown AF in people over 65 years of age”.

Published on: November 8, 2016

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  • ArrhythmiaAlliance
  • Stars
  • Anticoagulation Europe
  • Atrial Fibrillation Association

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