ECO 16: Digital Health in the NorthA digital story on ECO 16: Digital Health in the North.
Tennis players, legends and spectators took advantage of free pulse tests at the Williams BMW Liverpool International Tennis Tournament 2018.
The Innovation Agency, the academic health science network for the North West Coast, sent a team of AF Ambassadors to serve the pulse checks which can help to detect atrial fibrillation (AF) – an irregular heart rhythm which, if not treated, can lead to a stroke.
During the weekend, the AF Ambassadors tested around 150 people – including Liverpool doubles duo Neal and Ken Skupsky and American retired professional tennis player Robert Kendrick.
DIY expert and TV personality, Craig Phillips, and the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Christine Banks and Councillor Gary Millar also took a break from networking to get their heart rhythms checked out.
The AF Ambassadors were using the latest technology including AliverCor mobile EGC devices which attach to the back of a mobile smartphone and display a heart rate reading on an app.
AliveCor’s technology captures the heart rate of the user in just 30 seconds and shows an alert if the user’s heart rate is outside the normal range.
Four people were detected as having an irregular pulse at the tournament and they were given a letter signposting them to their GP for further investigation.
If detected, AF can be treated with anticoagulant medicine which can thin the blood and prevent it from clotting and causing a stroke.
AF is a condition which is under diagnosed and undertreated in the North West Coast and the Innovation Agency has estimated there are over 20,000 people who have the condition but are either not identified or not well managed on treatment. Subsequently, we have some of the highest AF-related stroke rates in the UK.
The Innovation Agency’s work to identify atrial fibrillation has led to over 500 potential strokes being avoided, saving around £11.2million in NHS resources, from 2014 to early 2018.
It has established an AF Collaborative of GP surgeries across the North West Coast, providing them with portable ECG devices to enable them to test patients’ pulses, as well as recruiting a team of volunteer AF Ambassadors to test the pulses of their family, friends and colleagues.
Dr Julia Reynolds, Head of Programmes and lead for AF at the Innovation Agency, said: “Atrial fibrillation is a common form of heart rhythm disorder. Research evidence shows that endurance athletes can be more prone to AF. Our work with sports clubs is useful in identifying these disorders as early as we can.”
Tournament Director Anders Borg said: “Nothing would please us more if we can be of help to improve the health and wellbeing of the British people through our tennis tournament, This is very much what our event is all about – reaching out to the local community and engaging with the public to get them onto tennis courts around Britain to help them maintain good mental and physical health throughout a lifetime.”
The Arrhythmia Alliance is urging people to take the Pulse Check Challenge. You can easily check your own pulse at home. It takes just 30 seconds to know the rhythm of your heart- yet it could save your life. Find out how to do it here www.knowyourpulse.org
If you’d like to prevent strokes in your community by becoming an AF Ambassador call Debbie Parkinson on 01772 520250 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Michelle Rushton of the Innovation Agency tests the pulse of tennis fan, TV presenter Craig Phillips