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New device could save lives

16 January 2013

New device could save lives

The NHS watchdog has backed a new blood pressure measuring device which can also detect dangerous heart conditions.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) says that doctors can use it routinely to check patients for atrial fibrillation (AF).  AF is an erratic, often fast heartbeat affecting 800,000 people in the UK and is a major cause of stroke.  The condition can be treated
with medicine to thin the blood and control the abnormal heartbeat.

The device looks like a normal blood pressure monitor with the usual inflatable cuff, but at the same time as checking a patient’s blood pressure, it can also check the patient’s pulse.

Prof Carole Longson from NICE said, “The guidance is not about screening for atrial fibrillation, but about the benefits that the device offers in helping to pick up atrial fibrillation by chance in people with suspected high blood pressure or those being screened for high blood pressure,
in primary care.”

The British Heart Foundation said, “Atrial fibrillation is a potentially dangerous condition that affects roughly one in 100 people in the UK and can increase four-fold the risk of a stroke.  With appropriate treatment that risk can be substantially reduced so early diagnosis is vital.”