Know Your Pulse - Aberdeen Scotland

Report 30th March 2016

Our intention was to target the city and surrounding area of Aberdeen. We targeted areas with a high concentration of public and patients, working in the community and NHS settings to:
- Raise awareness of the pulse
- Share information on why and how to take your pulse
- Offer pulse checks, in particular but not exclusively, to over 65 year olds
- Provide and share information on pulse taking, arrhythmias and atrial fibrillation (AF)
- Where a suspected irregular heart rhythm is felt during routine pulse check, we now have handheld ECG monitors (approved by NICE and part of the NHS Innovation program) which can detect and confirm if normal heart rhythm or if indeed AF is detected. We are able to share ECG readings and interpretations with individuals and their GPs.


Adverts for the pulse screening were placed in local newspapers in Aberdeen, reaching up to 60,000 people. The poster advertised the pulse check campaign, as well as the importance of knowing your pulse. It directed people to our website ( for further information and also advertised the dates, venue and times of the free pulse check events inviting them to attend. In collaboration with two arrhythmia nurses and an electrophysiologist, (heart rhythm nurse and cardiologist with a special interest in arrhythmias) we offered pulse screening over a five-day period in Boots stores, Michies Pharmacies and the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. Prior to the events, we made contact with all GP surgeries and primary care centres in the area to advise them of the ‘free’ pulse checks taking place and that their patients may be in contact with them following the outcome of these checks. Resources were sent to each GP surgery both for the medical professionals and for the patients. The literature that was sent included checklists, factsheets, posters and specific booklets on conditions, treatment options and management for all arrhythmias and in particular AF. We also advertised the availability of ‘free’ pulse screening in the local press.

Across the five days, four members of Arrhythmia Alliance spent time at two Boots Stores and two other pharmacies within the Aberdeen area plus Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.


  • Boots Pharmacy Store, Garthdee Road Retail Park
  • Boots Pharmacy Store, The Bon Accord Centre
  • Michies Pharmacy, 287 Rosemount Place, City Centre
  • Michies Pharmacy, 391 Union Street
  • Aberdeen Royal Infirmary

453 pulse checks were taken across the events, 9.87% of individuals tested were identified as having an abnormal heart rhythm and advised to visit their GP or when permission was given we wrote directly to the GP, including a copy of the ECG recording. We were advised of existing conditions, symptoms and medications to ensure this did not interfere with our results. Those tested ranged between 16 years of age to the late 80s.


The results from the pulse check study were surprising and highlighted the need for regular heart rhythm health checks. All ECG readings and interpretation were sent to the identified medical centre for each individual with a cover note and information about heart rhythm health with written authority obtained by the individual at the time of the pulse check. GPs are encouraged to add a note to each person’s NHS record of the date and result for the ECG and to follow up on those identified as irregular / of concern / needing review or identified as having AF. We hope that this work will encourage doctors and nurses in the GP surgeries to continue pulse checks with the patients as a life-saving and cost-saving measure. It has also introduced new technology – handheld ECG monitors – which is cost saving for NHS and also provides instant results to either reassure the individual or to diagnose AF. This rapid diagnosis will enable the doctor to prescribe anticoagulation therapy to reduce the high risk of an AF-related stroke and to refer for appropriate treatment for AF. Lives will be saved as well as the high cost of caring and treating someone who suffers an AF-related stroke.

Each person involved was given information on how to take their pulse, arrhythmias and atrial fibrillation..

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