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Identification of patients with atrial fibrillation in general practice

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 16 January 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:191

Large sample sizes would be needed for opportunistic screening for atrial fibrillation

  1. Eleri Roderick (, General practitioner.,
  2. Jim Cox, General practitioner
  1. Caldbeck, Wigton, Cumbria CA7 8DS
  2. University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TJ

    EDITOR—Sudlow et al suggest that detecting and treating atrial fibrillation in people aged over 65could greatly reduce the incidence of stroke.1 They also suggest searching for prescriptions for digoxin and opportunist pulse palpation as practical approaches to identifying patients with atrial fibrillation.

    The Cumbria Practice Research Group investigated these methods in patients over 60to assess: the prevalence of atrial fibrillation in the population; the number of patients eligible for warfarin treatment; the number of those eligible for warfarin treatment who would agree to start it; adverse events caused by warfarin; the practical aspects of initiating warfarin treatment in the community; and the sample size needed for a study measuring the outcome of treatment with warfarin after screening for atrial fibrillation.

    We flagged patients' records with a Post-it note asking the …

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