St Helens is on the pulse!

17 Sep 2018

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A cutting-edge stroke prevention test will be available for free on the streets of St Helens at a series of events held by St Helens Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in partnership with the Innovation Agency from Monday 17th September 2018.

The test is designed to spot atrial fibrillation (AF), an easily treatable condition that results in an irregular heart beat which can lead to serious conditions such as heart failure and stroke.

The North West Coast has one of the highest AF-related stroke rates in the UK and we know that there are at least 20,000 people in our region who are unaware they have AF.

The events are designed to make people in St Helens aware of AF and how a simple pulse rhythm check can help identify people at risk – the test is quick and easy and involves a recording device in the shape of a stick with metallic handles at both ends.

Events will be attended by the Innovation Agency’s ‘AF Ambassadors’ such as stroke survivor, Kim Hughes, who says:

“A quarter of people who have a stroke are under 65 and I was just 33 when I had mine. I thought strokes only happened to older people – I was petrified.”

She said: “I want to help prevent strokes because I know the damage they can cause to the victims and their families.”

Those with a positive result will be advised that early treatment can be life-saving and to book an appointment with their GP. If diagnosed with AF they will be prescribed anticoagulant medication which can help prevent a person with AF from having a stroke.

The test is open to members of the public over the age of 55 at the following events:

Co-op Distribution Centre – Monday 17th September
Church Square – Tuesday 18th September
St Helens Hospital – Wednesday 19th September
ASDA St Helens – Thursday 20th September

Dr Ruth Hunter, Senior Commissioning and Transformation Manager/Programme Manager for NHS St Helens CCG said “ we are working with colleagues across the community to raise awareness of Atrial Fibrillation to help prevent strokes, in September we will be holding drop in sessions at a number of local venues and encouraging people over 55 to come along and have the simple test. We estimate that locally there are approximately 854 undiagnosed AF patients. Once the condition is identified it can be easily treated.”

If you are worried about your heart rate, you can always take your pulse manually at home. Visit the Heart Rhythm Alliance at for details of how to take your pulse.

The programme is funded through a joint working project between Bristol-Myers Squibb and the Innovation Agency (NHS Academic Health Science Network for the North West Coast)