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Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is the most common sustained cardiac arrhythmia, and estimates suggest its prevalence is increasing. If left untreated atrial fibrillation increases the risk of stroke five-fold.

AF-related strokes are often more severe with higher mortality and greater disability. Treatment with an anticoagulant significantly reduces the risk of stroke in people with AF.

NICE Guidelines have identified that over 50% of patients with known AF were not on an effective medication regime.

GM AHSN’s project, the AF Data Landscape Tool, seeks to standardise at scale a pan Manchester approach to improving the pathway for care for those at risk of an Atrial Fibrillation (AF) related Stroke, reducing stroke deaths by 365 per year. We are also working with our member organisations on AF-related projects in specific areas.

Current projects:

Atrial Fibrillation Data Landscape Tool

Alivecor & Salford CCG AF Detection Pilot


Why are we focusing on this in Greater Manchester?

Atrial Fibrillation is common nationwide, but current data shows us that Greater Manchester has one of the worst rates of stroke, of anywhere in England.  For us, therefore, finding a way of identifying early on who is most at risk, who is showing warning signs, and who is missing out on the correct medication – is vital.

“I first heard of AF when my husband was having investigations for a possible stomach ulcer.  AF was identified at this point and was described as an irregular heart rhythm.  As he was already being treated for high blood pressure, nothing further was done.  No one explain the potential risks of AF and no particular treatment was recommended.


The impact on our lives was sudden and profound.  Shortly after this diagnosis was made, my husband had a stroke and whilst he was waiting for further tests he had a second stroke. He sustained damage to his vision and was not allowed to drive for a year, and although he is now doing much better, it is likely that receiving treatment for his AF could have prevented both of these strokes.


Once AF has been diagnosed, the patient should be made fully aware of the potential risks and dangers and the treatment available.  They should be referred for anti-coagulant therapy if appropriate.  I believe that the majority of people are unaware of the connection between AF and stroke until it’s too late.”

Joan Chantrell, Public Experience Group member.

Starting Anticoagulation with Jack

Anticoagulants are prescribed to prevent harmful blood clots that can lead to stroke. They are designed to prevent or treat clots, but can increase the risk of bleeding. Patients and carers need advice and information about how these medicines work, and their potential side effects. 

On the behalf of the AHSN Networks our colleagues at Wessex AHSN have produced a new video, 'Starting Anticoagulation with Jack' to meet this need for patients, their family and carers after anticoagulants have been prescribed. It explains about clotting and why abnormal clots can form as people age. The different types of medicines are shown, and Jack and his son talk about Jack’s concerns, side effects and sources of support. 

We know that many people taking anticoagulants don't fully understand what side effects to look out for, or when to seek help. Starting Anticoagulation with Jack has been created to prevent people becoming unwell while on anticoagulant medicines, and avoid unnecessary admissions to hospital.  

If you want to see more you can follow Jack on Facebook by searching for ‘Starting Anticoagulation With Jack’ or on twitter @StopTheClots.

As part of our ongoing work to improve AF detection rates, we are supporting Salford CCG with a project to introduce new mobile technology to GP surgeries, enabling fast and accurate heartbeat monitoring of patients. Watch this video to find out more.

GM AHSN announces the launch of a new business case model for AF-related stroke prevention developed in collaboration with PHE

Public Health England (PHE) and the Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) have collaborated on a nationwide programme to identify locally targeted initiatives that aim to reduce rates of Atrial...

GM AHSN announces development of new AHSN-wide business case model for AF-related stroke prevention

Following last week’s AF Aware Week, and nationwide focus on Atrial Fibrillation (AF), we announce the development of a new AHSN-wide Business Case Model that will target resources to improve...

4S DAWN and AHSNs working together to broaden access to key TTR data and improve the management of AF nationwide

For the past two years, Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) and Public Health England (PHE) have been working to expand access to key healthcare datasets that allow evaluation of the patient...

Stroke Association State of the Nation Report 2017 released

The Stroke Association, a key partner supporting GM AHSN with its AF-prevention work, has today published its 'State of the Nation' report for 2017

New QOF data for Atrial Fibrillation released

This week sees the release of the latest Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) data around Atrial Fibrillation (AF). The data show numbers of people registered with AF by area, and how this relates...

World Stroke Day and International Exposure for the Greater Manchester AHSN

Andi Orlowski, GM AHSN's Associate Director of Health & Implementation shares his thoughts on our activities to promote our AF work around the world!

Save the date! Preventing AF-related stroke: overcoming challenges and accelerating improvements

Public Health England’s national AF-related stroke prevention programme, working with north regional AHSNs, NHS England, Arrhythmia Alliance, British Heart Foundation, AF Association and the Stroke...

AF Association Report Published

A new report was published last week by the AF Association, entitled ‘In pursuit of excellence the prevention of AF-related stroke’.

AF Aware Week

Greater Manchester Academic Health Science network is working with clinicians across the region to improve patient care and reduce deaths from preventable strokes.

Preventing stroke – Ladies first

Jane Macdonald is Associate Director of Nursing and Improvement at Greater Manchester Academic Health Science Network. In this blog for World Stroke Day, she explains why stroke prevention is of...