Northumbria Primary Care screening patients in a trial that aims to reduce stroke risk

Patients at a group of GP practices have been invited to take part in a trial, called SAFER, which could reduce their risk of strokes and heart attacks.
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Northumbria Primary Care has identified patients in some of its Northumberland practices who are over the age of 70 and at a higher risk of atrial fibrillation (AF) to take part.

Many people who have AF are not aware of it due to a lack of symptoms. The condition is more prevalent in people over the age of 70 and is linked to an increased risk of serious medical conditions like strokes, heart attacks and dementia – with roughly 10% of strokes occurring in those with undetected atrial fibrillation.

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Once a diagnosis has been made, patients can be treated with blood thinning medication that will reduce the risk of serious medical problems.

Dr Justine Norman, associate medical director at Northumbria Primary Care.Dr Justine Norman, associate medical director at Northumbria Primary Care.
Dr Justine Norman, associate medical director at Northumbria Primary Care.

However, it is not known whether the potential benefits of screening outweigh the potential harms, such as serious bleeding as a result of the blood thinning medication. Therefore, it is important to test screening in a trial where some participants will receive screening, while others do not.

Northumbria Primary Care, which is a wholly owned not-for-profit subsidiary of Northumbria Healthcare, manages 10 practices across Northumberland and North Tyneside.

Dr Justine Norman, associate medical director, said: “We’re really excited to participate.

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“This trial has the potential to save lives and improve quality of life for some of our patients, allowing them to stay healthier for longer.”

Eligible patients will be contacted by their practice to participate in the trial if they match the inclusion criteria. Patients are not able to volunteer themselves for this trial.