NHS boss announces 600,000 more Brits will get life-saving blood thinners on the NHS in deal which could ‘save 5,000 lives by 2024’
- New drug deal will save 5,000 lives and prevent 21,000 stokes, NHS estimates
- The new oral anticoagulants will be given to patients will irregular heart beats
- NHS boss hopes these drugs will free up health resources by preventing strokes
More than 5,000 lives could be saved and 21,000 stokes prevented thanks to a new NHS England deal to expand the use of life-saving blood thinning drugs.
The agreement was announced by NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard who said 610,000 patients would benefit from the scale up of the use of direct oral anticoagulants.
The drugs will help prevent strokes by preventively preventing blood clots in patients with atrial fibrillation a condition causing an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate.
Speaking at the NHS Providers conference Ms Pritchard said the agreements struck between NHS England and drug manufacturers who make the direct oral anticoagulants.
NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard says a new drug deal to prescribe 600,000 more patients with anticoagulants will help prevent 20,000 strokes and save 5,000 lives
The new drugs will be given to patients who suffer from atrial fibrillation, a condition causing an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate. The NHS says the condition causes one in five strokes in England. The new anticoagulants will help prevent and actively treat blood clots before they cause a stroke
WHAT IS ATRIAL FIBRILLATION?
Atrial fibrillation is a heart condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate.
A normal heart rate should be regular and between 60 and 100 beats a minute when you’re resting.
You can measure your heart rate by feeling the pulse in your neck or wrist.
In atrial fibrillation, the heart rate is irregular and can sometimes be very fast. In some cases, it can be considerably higher than 100 beats a minute.
This can cause problems including dizziness, shortness of breath and tiredness.
Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm disturbance, affecting around 1 million people in the UK.
It can affect adults of any age, but it’s more common in older people. It affects about 7 in 100 people aged over 65.
You may be aware of noticeable heart palpitations, where your heart feels like it’s pounding, fluttering or beating irregularly, often for a few seconds or, in some cases, a few minutes.
You should make an appointment to see your GP if:
- you notice a sudden change in your heartbeat
- your heart rate is consistently lower than 60 or above 100 (particularly if you’re experiencing other symptoms of atrial fibrillation, such as dizziness and shortness of breath)
- See your GP as soon as possible if you have chest pain.
‘The agreements struck by NHS England will save thousands of lives and prevent many more people suffering the debilitating effects of strokes by making this treatment available to hundreds of thousands more patients,’ she said.
‘The health service now has a proven track record of striking deals with manufacturers to ensure patients in England get cutting-edge care at a price which offers best value for taxpayers.’
The agreement on the drugs comes after The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommended them as being more effective for the prevention of atrial fibrillation-related stroke than other anticoagulants.
Previous standard of anticoagulation treatment involved people needing to regularly attend their GP surgery or hospital for frequent monitoring.
But the new direct oral anticoagulants will now mean patients will often now only need to attend an annual review of their medicines.
NHS England estimates providing direct oral anticoagulants to 610,000 more patients will help prevent 21,700 stokes and save 5,400 lives over the next three years.
This commercial agreement for direct oral anticoagulants will go live from 1 January next year.
The cost of the new deal was not announced.
Patients will be told by their GP, or the clinician managing their condition, if they should go on the new anticoagulants.
NHS England national specialty adviser for cardiovascular disease prevention Helen Williams said the agreement was good news for the estimated 1.5 million people in England with atrial fibrillation, which is estimated to cause one in five strokes.
‘Not only is stroke one of the biggest killers in our country, but it leads to life-changing and often devastating long-term harm for many others,’ she said.
‘By ensuring these drugs are made available for all people with atrial fibrillation who are at risk of stroke, the NHS will not only prevent serious harm to the people affected, but avoid the need for aftercare which puts additional pressure on the health service.’