A new service has been launched to help identify and correctly treat atrial fibrillation (AF) patients at risk of stroke.

The ‘ground-breaking’ system could help save ‘hundreds of lives’, according to creators Oberoi Consulting, by assisting general practitioners (GPs) with the complete management of patients with AF, a heart condition which causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate.

The Oberoi SPAF & Case Finding Service uses its real-time data extraction and analysis along with opportunistic prompts for missing clinical interventions, to ensure that high-risk AF patients receive oral anti-coagulants which in turn may prevent strokes.

Stroke prevention is an important part of the NHS Long Term Plan, and is considered a clinical priority. NHS England has already invested £9 million to fund pharmacists and specialist nurses in 23 clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to work with GPs with an aim to avert up to 700 strokes and 200 deaths through extra investigation into 20,000 patients who are at high risk of AF.

The National Stroke Programme has been developed jointly by NHS England and the Stroke Association in consultation with clinical experts and people affected by stroke. The programme will support local organisations to deliver better prevention, treatment and care for the 80,000 people who have a stroke in England each year, and meet the ambitions for stroke set out in the Long Term Plan.

Professor Ahmet Fuat, GP specialist in cardiology, believes that it is essential for “GPs, nurses and pharmacists [to] have access to a system such as that developed by Oberoi,” explaining, “It is completely integrated within the practice system and carries out a real-time analysis of patients who may have AF and are at risk of stroke, based on certain search criteria which are already within the patient record.

“It enables us to keep on top of detection of AF and appropriate anticoagulation in eligible patients and, if we use it correctly, we should reduce strokes and bleeding side effects by giving correctly dosed medications.”

Around 1.2 million people in the UK have AF, which means that blood clots are more likely to form in the heart, increasing the risk of stroke. If a clot blocks one of the arteries leading to the brain, it could cause a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA). Patients with AF are five times more likely to experience a stroke.