Over-65s pulse check to detect AF

GPs are being urged to check the pulse rate of patients over the age of 65 to pick up more cases of atrial fibrillation (AF), after a charity launched a pulse awareness campaign last week.

Although the current health checks programme does not call for pulse checks, NICE AF guidance advises GPs to check for an irregular pulse.

Dr Matthew Fay, a GP in Bradford and an executive of the Arrhythmia Alliance, said: 'GPs are not measuring pulse rates and, as a result, we are not finding cases of AF.

'Ideally they should measure pulse rate in anyone over the age of 65. AF prevalence is about 1.3 per cent, but there are a lot of undiagnosed cases. The real prevalence could be about 1.8 per cent.'

Dr Fay added that he would have liked to have seen pulse checks included in the health checks programme.

He proposed that GPs could measure pulse rates in elderly patients when they present for their annual flu jabs.

'In Surrey they measured the pulse rate of 45,000 patients over the age of 65 when they presented for flu jabs and found that 1 per cent had undiagnosed AF.'

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

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