A campaign to help raise awareness of the dangers posed by atrial fibrillation (AF) – a major cause of strokes - has been hailed as a success, after more than 400 people across Merseyside attended informative events to learn about the condition.
The Know Your Pulse campaign involved a series of events across the city was supported by Liverpool FC and Everton FC and a number of local healthcare organisations. The campaign, which was coordinated by the North West Coast Academic Health Science Network (NWC AHSN), is part of a wider drive to increase stroke-awareness being run by the European Brain Council, Atrial Fibrillation Association and the Stroke Association.
Dr Liz Mear, Chief Executive of the NWC AHSN, said: “This has been a fantastic campaign and it has been great to see so many people come forward and take part in the open days and AF awareness events which our teams organised. AF is a condition which can be quite easily managed and monitored, but in order to combat it, people need to be given relevant information so they can take the necessary steps to handle the condition.
“Simple steps like raising awareness of disorders like this can have huge implications for the general health of the wider community. It’s important that people are equipped with the knowledge they need to be able to support themselves and make positive healthcare choices. It’s been great to see community organisations – in particular Everton FC and Liverpool FC - getting behind this very worthwhile series of events.”
AF, which is essentially a flutter in the heart, is the cause of around 20 per cent of strokes and leads to the blood not being pumped consistently round the body. Strokes caused by AF are considerable worse than strokes from other causes and mean that people may be more likely to die and suffer more disability, reduced quality of life. Data from the NHS tells us that each year there are over 700 strokes caused by AF and 110 of these are experienced by people who did not know they had the condition.
People across north, central and south Merseyside attended the events where they were shown how to test themselves for AF and steps to minimise the risk of developing the condition. The campaign identified 12 people who had an irregular pulse.
Dr Matthew Fay, GP at Westcliffe Medical Practice in Shipley and Medical Advisor to the AF Association, said: “‘Stroke is a devastating condition, it can take away a person’s freedoms and abilities in a moment, and it does not just affect the individual but those also those who love and care for them. Atrial Fibrillation, or AF as it better known, dramatically increases the risk of stroke and these strokes often causes a more devastating disability. We should always see an AF stroke as an avoidable stroke!
“We need to work together, patient, clinician and health community to stop people’s lives being so dreadfully affected. We need people to ‘know their pulse’ to look for the irregular rhythm of AF; We need clinicians to ensure those found to have AF receive appropriate treatment with blood thinning anticoagulants to reduce this stroke risk and we need the health community to ensure these treatments are as accessible and easy to use as possible for the patient.”
An evaluation of the campaign and a campaign tool-kit commissioned by the NWC AHSN is available on the NWC AHSN website. The evaluation will help to inform how future AF campaigns are planned.