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New community heart project launches to help reduce the risk of stroke, and you can too… with your smartphone!

04 February 2016

February is Heart Month and to coincide with the British Heart Foundation’s annual campaign, an innovative new community project between West Middlesex University Hospital, Hounslow Clinical Commissioning Group and the Arrhythmia Alliance has launched to reduce the risk of a stroke for Hounslow residents.

February is Heart Month and to coincide with the British Heart Foundation’s annual campaign, an innovative new community project between West Middlesex University Hospital, Hounslow Clinical Commissioning Group and the Arrhythmia Alliance has launched to reduce the risk of a stroke for Hounslow residents.

The project, funded by the National Institute of Health Research’s Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (NIHR CLAHRC), aims to improve the detection and treatment of an abnormal heart rhythm, or Atrial Fibrillation (AF), which causes 1 in 5 strokes. There are a number of different types of AF, some of which can come and go. It affects 140 million people worldwide and 1 in 4 people over the age of 40 are at risk of developing it.

One of the ways the project will improve the detection and treatment of AF is by working with industry partners Samsung and EE with a piece of technology called AliveCor, which can be attached to any smartphone device. AliveCor is a mobile electrocardiogram (ECG) recorder which can record an accurate ECG or heart rate anytime, anywhere in just 30 seconds. Its AF detector can then let the user know straight away whether their recording is normal or if atrial fibrillation is detected.

John Pickles, a West Middlesex patient, had a history of occasional heart palpitations but struggled to find a diagnosis.  Mr Pickles did not want to go down the route of a Holter monitor, a portable device worn continuously for at least 24 hours to monitor heart rhythm, and instead bought his own AliveCor Mobile ECG which links with his smart phone.

Mr Pickles explains: “I would get attacks only occasionally, so the chance of one of them actually taking place during the 24 hours I was wearing a Holter monitor was very slim, so I was much more interested in using AliveCor. It has been fantastic. I didn’t want to spend weeks and months having various tests and waiting for a diagnosis, so I bought the device and downloaded the app.”

“When I felt an attack come on, it took an instant reading. It’s ever so easy to use. It records every reading which you can then email to your doctor. I emailed my reading to Agnes Kaba, a Clinical Nurse Specialist and the Rapid Access Chest Pain Clinic Service Lead at West Middlesex. The very next day she had an accurate diagnosis for me: Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation. I have since been put on the appropriate anticoagulant which has put my mind at rest and reduced the risk of me having a stroke – a real concern of mine. AliveCor is absolutely brilliant, I have had a very positive experience overall.”

Dr Sadia Khan, Consultant Cardiologist at West Middlesex University Hospital said: “On behalf of the CLAHRC Atrial Fibrillation project team, we are extremely grateful to Mr Pickles for sharing his story and helping us in raising awareness of this important heart condition. We estimate that almost 12,000 people in London each year could be prevented from having a stroke if AF is better treated.”

The pilot phase of the project is currently underway and the aim is for a full roll-out across Hounslow from April. If you would like to know more about the project, please do get in touch by emailing sadia.khan@wmuh.nhs.uk

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