Device to help detect Atrial Fibrillation rolled out across East Berkshire

A device to help detect atrial fibrillation (AF) in patients during diagnosis and monitoring of hypertension is being rolled out to all GP practices across East Berkshire.

The device – WatchBP – is an oscillometric blood pressure monitor which, whilst monitoring a person’s blood pressure, automatically detects pulse irregularity caused by Atrial Fibrillation.

Atrial fibrillation, which affects approximately 1 million people across the UK, is a heart condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate.

A normal heart rate should be regular and between 60 and 100 beats a minute when you are resting. If left undetected, it can increase a person’s risk of stroke fivefold.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) said if doctors suspect a patient has high blood pressure, they should use WatchBP which could ‘opportunistically’ detect atrial fibrillation. This in turn would increase case identification.

Dr Nithya Nanda, clinical lead for Cardiology in East Berkshire, said: “We are grateful to NHS England for funding these devices which are now being used by GPs across Slough, Windsor, Maidenhead, Bracknell and Ascot.

“Opportunistic checks being carried out at flu clinics and during NHS health checks for example are proving to be hugely beneficial in helping to identify people with AF.

He added: “By increasing the detection rate of atrial fibrillation, preventative treatment can be considered to reduce the incidence of atrial fibrillation-related stroke.”

Note to picture desk: Photo above from L to R – Julie Roche – Healthcare Assistant – and Alison Carpenter (patient) at Weekes Drive Surgery in Slough