Atrial Fibrillation – Diagnosis and Treatment

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Atrial Fibrillation – Diagnosis and Treatment
Wednesday 4th September 2018

Dr Manas Sinha, Consultant Cardiologist at New Hall Hospital explains about Atrial Fibrillation, the diagnosis and treatments, in a case close to his heart. 

“Very recently, a friend of mine was talking about an old mutual acquaintance that, out of the blue, had a very disabling stroke which resulted in a 3 month hospital stay. He survived but has been left very weak and walks with a stick, aged 55. He was previously very fit and active but had recently noticed an intermittent irregular pulse but thought little of it. It transpires that he had paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (AF) which in itself may cause no symptoms, but the consequences can be catastrophic without investigation and treatment. AF can lead to a stroke so it needs to be diagnosed quickly. It is so very important to see a doctor if you notice you have an irregular pulse or something does not seem normal.”

An ECG will be performed and if this does not show AF then a 24 hour ECG will be done. All patients should have an echocardiogram to see if the hearts structure is normal. There is an internationally recognised scoring system to assess the risk of stroke in patients with AF. People most at risk of developing AF and therefore having a subsequent stroke are the over 65s, females, diabetics, people with high blood pressure, those who have had a previous mini stroke  and those who have had a previous heart attack. 

Treatment is simple and effective and comprises of a pill to control the heart rate and a pill to thin the blood to reduce the risk of stroke. These tablets, known as Direct Oral Anticoagulants  (DOACS),  have revolutionised the treatment of AF, they are well tolerated and the patient does not need regular blood tests. 

AF screening and treatment is simple and can be carried out at New Hall Hospital. It can save lives:


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