Intended for healthcare professionals


Atrial fibrillation groups lobby patients to overturn screening committee decision

BMJ 2019; 366 doi: (Published 09 July 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l4612
  1. Elisabeth Mahase
  1. The BMJ

Two patients’ associations that have received funding from drug companies with vested interests are calling on patients to put pressure on the government’s National Screening Committee to overturn its decision not to recommend an atrial fibrillation screening programme.1

The sister organisations the Arrhythmia Alliance and AF Association emailed patients asking whether they could “help save lives and those impacted by AF-related strokes” and suggested that they write to the NSC to recommend a national screening programme for people aged 65 or over.

But doctors are concerned that the campaign goes against the evidence. They said that although patients’ groups should express their views they should do so while being transparent about financial conflicts of interests.

The NSC first reviewed the idea of atrial fibrillation screening in 2014 but decided not to recommend it because it was “uncertain” that screening would do “more good than harm to people identified during screening.”2 The committee reviewed more recent evidence last year and concluded that it …

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