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The Innovation Agency’s AF Ambassadors have been testing pulses ‘on the buses’ in a bid to reduce strokes in the region.
The team of volunteers has been recruited by the Innovation Agency, the Academic Health Science Network for the North West Coast, to test pulses for atrial fibrillation (AF), an irregular heart rhythm which can lead to a life-threatening stroke.
The Ambassadors headed to Stagecoach Merseyside and South Lancashire’s Gillmoss Bus Depot in Liverpool, to take part in a staff health and wellbeing event.
Organised by the Community Health Ambassadors Team from Age Concern, the Health Awareness Day provided information on issues such as alcohol awareness. There was also a health check nurse on site performing mini health MOTs and encouraging staff to visit their GP with any concerns.
AF Ambassadors Debbie Parkinson and Wendy Westoby attended the event and boarded the buses to test the pulses of drivers.
They used portable ECG technology including AliveCor mobile EGC devices which attach to the back of a smartphone and display a heart rate reading on an app, in just 30 seconds.
During the day, the Ambassadors tested around 40 Stagecoach drivers and staff.
The Innovation Agency’s Patient and Public Involvement Lead, Debbie Parkinson, said: “The drivers are keen to ensure that they keep healthy. Shifts and traffic can make bus driving a very stressful job so we helped the drivers learn how to take their own pulse as part of the #knowyourpulse campaign.
“We had three positive results on the day and all have been referred to their GP for further checks.”
If detected, AF can be treated with anticoagulant medicine which can thin the blood and prevent it from clotting and causing a stroke.
Alex Crane, operations director at Stagecoach Merseyside and South Lancashire, said: “The health of our drivers is something we take very seriously at Stagecoach. This activity is part of a wider campaign to improve staff wellbeing and give them the tools to have a happier and healthier lifestyle.
“I was delighted to see so many staff attending the event at Gillmoss and hope it proves beneficial to them for the future.”
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.
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 email@example.com.