Council chairman seeks to raise awareness of atrial fibrillation after granddad's death
A west Suffolk parish council chairman is striving to raise awareness of a type of irregular heartbeat following the death of his granddad.
Ben Lord, Ixworth Parish Council chairman, is calling for more people to undergo checks for atrial fibrillation (AF) and is backing the work of the West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to fight the condition.
Mr Lord’s granddad, Percy Rose, was diagnosed with AF in 2013 and was placed on medication for the rest of his life.
But in September last year the 81-year-old suffered a serious stroke and was taken to West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds.
He died the following morning after suffering a cardiac arrest.
People with AF are five times more likely to suffer from a stroke than someone without the condition.
Following his granddad’s death, Mr Lord wanted to find out more about AF and met with Dr John Cannon, from Ixworth Surgery, to discuss the condition.
He was shocked to discover that his granddad’s death could have been avoided.
“Treating AF just by aspirin alone is not enough and that is all my grandad was treated with,” he said.
“Robust research and clinical trials have now proven that by being prescribed the right anticoagulants (blood thinners) reduces the risk of a stroke by at least 70% which far outweighs the risk of bleeding in the vast majority of patients.”
West Suffolk CCG has been trialling new AliveCor technology at GP surgeries in the area which can detect irregular heartbeats in patients.
The group is keen to roll out further training for GPs, pharmacies and volunteers to administer the tests, which can help to ensure patients are given the right levels of medication.
Claire Jay, senior transformation lead at West Suffolk CCG, said: “We received 42 AliveCor devices after a successful bid and these were given to four GP surgeries in the area.
“It’s a 30-second test that monitors heart rhythm and can help assess patients’ medication types and levels.
“We’ve been out at beer festivals, Parkrun, and other events testing people and trying to raise awareness.
“The next steps are to get the devices into pharmacies, roll out an education and training programme to GPs and continue to work with Upbeat Heart Support, who work with people with AF.”
Mr Lord added: “In west Suffolk alone, 2,500 people have undiagnosed AF and over 65s are the demographic most susceptible to suffering from AF. “That’s 2,500 families that could be at risk of suffering what my family suffered almost a year ago.
“While there’s nothing that can change our family’s sufferance, telling our story by helping to raise vital awareness may save one family from going through the trauma and heartache that we did.”