St Helens is on the pulse!

14 September 2018


Residents in St Helens can take advantage of a free pulse check this week.

As part of a campaign to prevent strokes in the region, AF Ambassadors will be taking to the streets of St Helens to detect undiagnosed cases of atrial fibrillation (AF), an irregular heart rhythm which can lead to a life-threatening stroke.

It is a result of a partnership between the Innovation Agency and St Helens Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) who will be hosting the series of free pulse-testing events from Monday 17 September 2018.

The North West Coast has one of the highest AF-related stroke rates in the UK and we know that there are at least 20,000 people in our region who are unaware they have AF,

The events are designed to make people in St Helens aware of AF and how a simple pulse rhythm check can help identify people at risk.

The AF Ambassadors will be using cutting-edge technology in the form of a My Diagnostick device a portable ECG device which can detect an irregular heart rhythm. The test is quick and easy – users simply have to hold a metallic stick with both hands which will record their pulse.

If an irregular pulse is flagged, the Ambassador will signpost the person being tested to visit their GP for further tests. If diagnosed with AF, patients can easily manage the condition with anticoagulant medication, such as warfarin, so these simple pulse checks really can help to save lives.

AF Ambassadors will be testing staff at the Co-op Distribution Centre and at various venues throughout the week.

Members of the public over the age of 55 are invited to the following venues where they will receive their free pulse test:

Church Square - Tuesday 18th September, 9am – 5pm

St Helens Hospital - Wednesday 19th September, 9am – 5pm

ASDA St Helens - Thursday 20th September, 9am – 5pm

Wendy Westoby is one of the AF Ambassadors who will be testing during the week. 77-year-old Wendy has been diagnosed with AF after suffering a stroke in 2009. Now she has become a volunteer AF Ambassador to help prevent others from experiencing the same fate and is urging people to get their pulses checked.

She said: Go ahead - it's very simple and if AF is detected, initial treatment should be non-traumatic and may help to avoid the long-term problems after a stroke.”

Dr Ruth Hunter, Senior Commissioning and Transformation Manager/Programme Manager for NHS St Helens CCG explained: “We are working with colleagues across the community to raise awareness of atrial fibrillation to help prevent strokes.

“This September we will be holding drop-in sessions at a number of local venues and encouraging people over 55 to come along and have the simple test. We estimate that locally there are approximately 854 undiagnosed AF patients. Once the condition is identified it can be easily treated.”

If you are worried about your heart rate, you can always take your pulse manually at home. Visit the Heart Rhythm Alliance at for details of how to take your pulse.

The programme is funded through a joint working project between Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pfizer Alliance and the Innovation Agency.



Photo caption: AF Ambassador Wendy Westoby tests a bus drivers’ pulse. Photo credit: Gavin Trafford Photography


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