The NHS Health Checks programme should mandate GPs to provide a pulse check to all patients aged 40 to 74, according to the charity Arrhythmia Alliance.
The charity said sudden cardiac arrest and strokes caused by AF and other arrhythmias could be detected by 'free, quick and simple' pulse checks in practices.
Professor John Camm, president of the Arrhythmia Alliance, said: 'AF is of epidemic proportions and is only going to get worse. It's a simple fact that AF and other arrhythmias can be detected by introducing routine pulse checks. 'An irregular heartbeat that is detected early can be well treated to prevent stroke and other complications.'
Trudie Lobban, founder of the Arrhythmia Alliance, said increasing prevalence of AF now means that we all have a more than one-in-four lifetime risk of developing arrhythmia. 'Well-managed AF would save the NHS millions of pounds,' she added.
The charity has also launched an iPhone app to allow people to easily check their own pulse and encourage others to do so.