AF card deck distributed to 2,200 GPs

A card deck to support Atrial Fibrillation (AF) diagnosis and management in primary care has been created.  Endorsed by the Atrial Fibrillation Association and the Stroke Association, as part of joint work with Northern England Strategic Clinical Networks, the cards act as a resource designed to help GPs manage their patients with AF more effectively. The cards contain top tips, self-assessment checklists, anticoagulant information and references to patient and professional material.

The cards were developed by GP Dr Nigel Rowell with input from a range of prominent healthcare professionals and have been distributed to almost 2,200 GPs across the North East and North Cumbria area.

AF is the most common heart rhythm disturbance, affecting around one million people in the UK.  Atrial Fibrillation affects about 7 in 100 people aged over 65 and commonly displays no symptoms in those affected.  The aim of the cards is to increase awareness of AF and in turn reduce the number of strokes that occur as a result of undiagnosed and poorly treated AF.

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“AF is an area which has burgeoned recently with new anticoagulants available and clear guidance on assessing risk. Most GPs will come across new patients often as a surprise and it was the aim of the AHSN & North of England Cardiovascular Network to produce a desktop aid that a GP could reach for in these consultations.”
GP, Dr Nigel Rowell, CVD Lead from South Tees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)
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Around 2.4% of the population are estimated to be living with AF, the current diagnosed prevalence rate is 1.6%, suggesting that approximately 474,000 people are living with undiagnosed AF across England.

Instrumental in the AF cards’ production was GP, Dr Nigel Rowell, CVD Lead from South Tees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in conjunction with the Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) and Northern England Strategic Clinical Networks and Senate.

The key impacts are –

  • A practical, hand held step by step 12 page guide has been distributed to 2,200 GP’s across the region.
  • A revision to be undertaken as a result of an evaluation to include a specific card on warfarin.
  • Of those who had seen the card 42% used it and 16% of these had changed practice as a result.
  • Two other AHSNs have each ordered 500 copies of the cards.

The benefits to increasing awareness of AF are to assist with diagnosis in those who were previously unaware of the condition and subsequent management and medication.

This is likely to result in reduced number of hospital stays through early diagnosis which will result in cost savings

The cards were created, designed and distributed by the AHSN and were in high demand once supplied to surgeries.

“Effects of AF-related stroke are much more serious with two out of every five ending in death, another two going into an institution and only one in five making a recovery. We hope that by distributing the card decks to GPs practices we can provide a simple but effective tool to manage the this heart condition. “Working alongside the AHSN we’ve been able to make the cards commercially viable, suitable for the mass market within the NHS."
GP, Dr Nigel Rowell, CVD Lead from South Tees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)