[Enter MP’s name here]
House of Commons
I am writing to you today to make you aware of a new White Paper which has just been published on inequalities and unmet needs in atrial fibrillation (AF) in Europe. The White Paper which represents the consensus view of leading experts in the field of AF and stroke contains some critical messages for the way that we identify and manage AF patients in England.
AF is the most common arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythm disorder) and is a leading cause of AF-related stroke. One in four middle-aged adults will develop AF in their lifetime and AF is associated with one in every five strokes. AF-related strokes are more debilitating, disabling and often lead to fatality more than other kinds of strokes, meaning that they are also more expensive to manage for the NHS. During their first year, AF-related strokes already cost the NHS and social services over £700 million. With our ageing population, this figure is set to rise significantly, putting considerable pressure on the sustainability of our health budget.
AF-related strokes can however be prevented through effective AF detection and wider use of the therapies NICE recommends.
The White Paper points to a number of areas where England, and the UK as a whole, is under-performing in the provision of AF-related stroke services. Gaps in detection for example mean that 500,000 people with AF do not know that they have it, leaving them at risk of an AF-related stroke. It is also of concern that many AF patients do not have access to the therapies that could most effectively prevent AF-related stroke, due to differences in commissioning practices between different areas. I hope that you will agree this is unacceptable.
The White Paper, which is available on the Atrial Fibrillation Association website: http://www.heartrhythmalliance.org/afa/uk/af-white-paper-2018 highlights four key areas where action could be taken by policymakers to drive meaningful change for AF patients.
AF Association Healthcare Pioneers Report 2019 highlights best practice and offers solutions to deliver the unmet needs and addresses the four key areas on what action should be taken to bring about change and outcomes for AF patients and the NHS as a whole. http://www.heartrhythmalliance.org/afa/uk/healthcare-pioneers-2019
I would be most grateful if you could share both the White Paper and the AF Association Healthcare Pioneers Report 2019 with our local commissioners and decisionmakers on my behalf, to raise awareness of the continuing challenge of AF-related stroke and the opportunities we have for preventing it.