Heart Research UK awards a research grant of £115,000 to a project at the University of Glasgow for developing a risk score to help guide investigation for atrial fibrillation. This will allow more people to benefit from anticoagulant drugs to prevent second strokes.
After a stroke, heart rhythm monitors are worn for three days to look for an abnormal heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation (AF) that increases the risk of blood clots forming and second strokes. If the monitor shows that a patient has AF, then blood thinning drugs, called anticoagulants, can greatly reduce the risk of a second stroke. However, there are often long waits for these tests and only four out of every 100 people who have a three-day heart rhythm monitor are found to have AF.
New heart rhythm monitors that are worn for longer find many more people with AF, but these tests are not necessary for everyone who has suffered a stroke. It has also been difficult to implement them in the NHS, as a lot of time and resources are already required to perform the three-day heart rhythm monitors.
The new project, led by Professor Jesse Dawson, aims to develop a risk score that identifies people who are unlikely to have AF after stroke and therefore do not need heart rhythm monitoring for three days or longer. This would free up resources so that longer heart rhythm monitoring can be focused on people who are more likely to have AF.
675 people admitted with a stroke to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital Glasgow will take part in the study. The team will collect clinical and genetic information, heart rhythm recordings, and blood to measure levels of a new blood marker. All participants will have a 30-day heart rhythm monitor to test for AF and the data will be analysed to develop a risk score that identifies people who do not have AF after the 30 days of monitoring.
The results have the potential to improve care for people affected by AF and stroke by developing a more personalised model of care. This could help to avoid unnecessary tests for people who are unlikely to have AF, during what can be a challenging time for stroke survivors and carers. It would also mean that longer heart monitoring can be focused on people who are more likely to have AF. This would increase AF detection rates and allow more people to benefit from anticoagulant drugs to prevent second strokes.
Kate Bratt-Farrar, Chief Executive at Heart Research UK, said: “This is an exciting project where a successful outcome would enable the healthcare system to focus resources for heart rhythm monitoring after a stroke, on those who really need it.
“Anticoagulants are vital in preventing people from suffering a second stroke and we are proud to be able to support Professor Dawson and team in helping more people to benefit from them.”
You can read more about Heart Research UK’s Research Grants here.