Researchers develop revolutionary new way of detecting heart disorders

Researchers at the Medway School of Pharmacy have been working with health agencies in the county to develop a revolutionary new way of detecting heart disorders and potential strokes in those most at risk.

The researchers, from the Medway School of Pharmacy and its Centre for Health Services Studies, believe that a successful trial shows that pharmacists operating within GP surgeries can play a key role in detecting atrial fibrillation (AF) using a simple, handheld smartphone compatible device.

Working with a cardiologist from the Medway Maritime Hospital, clinical pharmacists from Kent Community Health Trust and general practices from the multispecialty community provider Encompass on the project, the Kent team carried out a screening of 335 patients across four GP practices in Faversham, Canterbury and Whitstable.

In screening people at flu clinics, the team were targeting a relevant, at-risk population (over 65 years), in accordance with the Medical Research Council’s framework for complex interventions.

The preliminary results of the Pharmacist Detecting Atrial Fibrillation (PDAF) study revealed that clinical pharmacists based in GP practices can effectively screen and diagnose patients with AF during the influenza vaccination season.

The pharmacists used ‘novel’ healthcare technology to record single-lead ECGs toy increase detection of AF. Volunteer patients, GPs and pharmacists who took part in the study were very positive about both the screening initiative and the process itself.

Of the 335 patients screened, 15 (4.5%) cases of AF were detected and another 14 (4.2%) cases with previously undiagnosed cardiac conditions were identified. The research was led by Dr Emma Veale at the Medway School of Pharmacy, which is a collaboration between Kent and the University of Greenwich.