More than 1,000 Northumberland residents at increased risk of stroke are set to benefit from a personalised treatment plan, after the area secured a share of a £9 million new programme led by NHS England.
Under the new scheme, around 18,000 people across England at higher risk of experiencing a stroke will receive targeted checks and treatment which can dramatically reduce their risk.
Patients will be identified by specialist nurses and clinical pharmacists who are trained to treat an irregular heart rhythm condition – called atrial fibrillation - which increases the chance of having a stroke.
More than 2,000 in Northumberland have atrial fibrillation but are not currently being treated with anticoagulation drug therapy, which can reduce the risk of a stroke by two thirds.
Specialist clinicians will review patients’ records to identify those at risk, who will then be invited into their practice to discuss a personalised treatment plan with a GP, pharmacist or nurse.
Siobhan Brown, Chief Operating Officer at NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “There is strong evidence that untreated atrial fibrillation are at much higher risk of suffering a stroke – but the good news is that the right treatment can reduce that risk by two thirds.
“This scheme could prevent around 66 strokes, saving lives and helping people avoid severe long-term health problems.
“All 41 of our practices are taking part in the project, with support from the cardiologist at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, to ensure we improve skills and processes wherever we can.”
The scheme gets underway from this month and is expected to complete by March 2020.
Northumberland is one of 23 areas in England to introduce this scheme, which aims to treat a total of more than 18,000 people and prevent around 700 strokes nationwide. If it is successful, the new approach is likely to be rolled out across the whole of England.
The county has more than 8,000 patients identified with atrial fibrillation – higher than the estimated national average - with around 70% currently receiving anticoagulation treatment.
Anticoagulation treatment may not be suitable for all atrial fibrillation patients, but the project will give the opportunity to revisit past decisions where this is helpful.
People who suffer an atrial fibrillation-related stroke are more likely to die or suffer severe disability than from any other type of stroke.