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Credit card-sized atrial fibrillation testers given to practices around England

15 February 2018

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New technology to detect atrial fibrillation (AF) is being distributed to NHS practices across England.

Developed by AliveCor, KardiaMobile is a small device the size of a credit card that can detect AF through a person’s fingertips.

GPs are encouraged to use it as a screening-tool for atrial fibrillation during routine appointments or during other health checks.

The device works with an app on a compatible smartphone or tablet and in less than 30 seconds it can produce an accurate electrocardiogram (ECG) reading indicating if the patient has AF.

The results can be viewed, saved and shared and the device can be used at any time, even when the patient’s symptoms are latent.

The device is part of an NHS England-funded project, rolled out by the NHS Innovation Accelerator scheme.

They have been sent to 15 Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs), which will redistribute them to GP practices and NHS community clinics across England.

Public Health England found that AF is the most common arrhythmia, affecting 1.4m people in the UK.

Half a million people are undiagnosed and could die of an AF-related stroke, according to Stroke Association.  

In 2016, our sister publication Pulse reported that GP leaders were recalcitrant in approving a plan for a QOF screening indicator that was introduced by NICE, arguing that screening for atrial fibrillation is against National Screening Committee advice and that it is another example of the tick-box culture..

By speeding up the diagnosis process, GPs will no longer need to send their patients to the hospital for an ECG, which could save the NHS £2bn.

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