Over 260,000 people with atrial fibrillation (AF) could be at risk of stroke as they are receiving either no preventative treatment or are still taking only aspirin, no longer recommended by NICE for the prevention of AF-related stroke.
These latest figures come two years after NICE published guidelines on the management of AF, recommending treatment with an oral anticoagulant for AF-related stroke prevention and advising against aspirin on its own to prevent stroke.
The data review showed that even in 2016, 140,402 patients (15.7 per cent of patients reviewed) were still not receiving any preventative treatment and 120,905 patients (13.5 per cent of patients reviewed) were still receiving only aspirin for stroke prevention.
Separate data from the end of 2015 looking at stroke services also shows that over one-fifth of stroke patients are already in AF on admission: of these, less than half (49 per cent) are taking anticoagulants and 25 per cent are taking only antiplatelet drugs.
To encourage implementation of the NICE guidance, the AF180 Degrees Campaign (AF180°) has been developed by a group of expert healthcare professionals and patient advocates to support change in order to prevent AF-related strokes.