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A new tool for Atrial Fibrilation

 Cerebrovascular strokes are the third largest cause of death in the UK and have a greater disability impact than any other condition. One in five acute NHS beds are occupied by stroke patients with care for these people costing the NHS in excess of £2.8 billion per year.

Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is a heart condition that significantly increases the risk of stroke. AF can be easily diagnosed by undertaking an Electro Cardio Graph (ECG) test and once diagnosed, the risk of stroke can be substantially reduced via the use of anticoagulation therapies. Currently, an ECG test is usually carried out in a specialist clinic in an acute hospital. There has to be an initial suspicion that an ECG test is required, the patient has to be referred by their GP, they have to travel to the hospital and then back to their GP to receive the results. This can be a significant undertaking for elderly patients. Very few GP practices undertake ECG testing due to the time, equipment and expertise required. Unfortunately, for these reasons, many elderly patients only have an ECG recording and a diagnosis of AF after a stroke has occurred and they have been referred to an acute hospital for treatment.

Rapid Rhythm are developing an ECG device that would enable primary care clinicians to screen their elderly patients for AF, enabling the timely prescription of anticoagulants and a reduction in the number of AF related strokes. The company was awarded a £90k grant from NHS South

East Coast Strategic Health Authority under the Small Business Research Initiative (SRBI) scheme to develop the diagnostic algorithm and test it on patients attending Manchester Royal Infirmary. The long-term aim is to develop a commercially available device for GPs and other primary care clinicians and a spin-out company has been established in the MedTECH Centre.


Centre Manager, Dr Paul Hanmer said “Rapid Rhythm represents a new trend as a spin-out based on NHS intellectual property. Central Manchester Foundation Trust stands to gain in two ways, both by the development of a valuable new tool to improve the health of NHS patients and financially through their stake in what could prove to be a valuable company exporting a life-saving technology to the international healthcare market.”

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