Background: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a major preventable risk factor for stroke and may be silent in elderly individuals who are at especially high risk. This paper describes the first phase of implementation of a clinical AF detection programme in a community setting. Objectives were (i) to determine the feasibility of using a handheld ECG recording system for AF detection among individuals aged 65 years or more, who have cardiovascular risk factors. (ii) to estimate the yield of previously undiagnosed atrial fibrillation cases, and the proportion of these who would be suitable for oral anticoagulation.
Methods: a handheld ECG monitor was placed in each of 23 primary care practices across Scotland. Eligible patients attending for annual health checks had ECGs recorded, and the ECGs were transmitted and interpreted by two senior cardiologists. ECG quality was rated, and an adjudication made on the rhythm. For patients confirmed with AF, stroke and bleeding risk were estimated using CHA2DS2-VASc and HAS-BLED scoring tools.
Results: single lead ECGs were recorded in 1805 patients (703 female and 1102 male), mean (SD) age 74.9 (7.1) years. Rhythm regularity could be assessed in 98.7% of ECGs recorded. 92 patients (5.1%) were found to have AF. Median [range]CHA2DS2-VASc score was 4 ([2-7) and median [range] HAS-BLED score was 2 (1-5).
Conclusion: handheld ECG recording can be used to identify AF in the primary care setting, with minimal training. The yield was relatively high.
- Ambulatory monitoring
- Atrial fibrillation
- Public health