Consultant praises heart treatment advice that could affect thousands of West Norfolk patients

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New treatment guidelines, which could affect thousands of people living with a common heart problem in West Norfolk, have been welcomed by a senior consultant.

More than 4,000 people in the borough have a condition called atrial fibrillation (AF), which causes an irregular heartbeat and can increase a patient’s risk of suffering a stroke.

Today, Wednesday, June 18, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) issued new guidance recommending the use of newer medications to treat the condition instead of aspirin, which has been commonly used in the past.

And Dr Kneale Metcalf, a consultant in stroke medicine at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, said he was “delighted” with the recommendation.

He said that, although the criteria for the use of newer blood thinning drugs are gradually being relaxed, he regularly meets stroke patients who also have AF.

He said: “It is frustrating to know that some patients could have been better protected to help prevent a stroke.

“The revised guidelines give clear recommendations about the treatment options available to help prevent a stroke.”

More than a million people in Britain are known to have AF, of which 4,024 live in West Norfolk.

That figure is 2.43 per cent of the borough’s population, the third highest figure in England and more than twice the national average.

North Norfolk has the second highest proportion of people in England with the condition, in which a patient’s heart does not work as efficiently as it should and blood clots can form.

The clots increase the risk of a stroke and Dr Metcalf, who is also part of a telemedicine consultant rota at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, estimates that around one in five stroke cases which end up in hospital are triggered by AF.

He added: “Norfolk generally is a big area because of the age demographic.”