Zenicor Medical Systems AB has been selected as sole supplier for a screening programme in the UK for atrial fibrillation. The screening programme is the world’s largest randomised controlled trial to discover whether screening systematically for atrial fibrillation, a heart condition responsible for one in ten strokes, and offering optimal treatment reduces the incidence of stroke, premature death and other health risks associated with atrial fibrillation. In total over 300 general practices across England will participate.
The research, led by the University of Cambridge, UK, will involve 120,000 patients aged over 65 in 300 general practices within NHS across England and is financed by NIHR, National Institute for Health Research. Patients in 100 practices will undergo screening, and those in 200 practices will not. Patients will be loaned a handheld ECG device, provided by Zenicor, to measure a (single lead) ECG twice a day at home for two weeks. People who are found to have atrial fibrillation by the screening programme will be offered treatment with anticoagulant drugs to reduce their risk of stroke and heart attack. Both sets of patients will be followed up for five years to see whether screening and treatment leads to fewer strokes, heart attacks and deaths. The screening programme is expected to start during the summer of 2018 and last until 2021.
Lead investigator Jonathan Mant, Professor of Primary Care Research and Head of the Primary Care Unit at the University of Cambridge said: “We needed a system that is simple to use that is able to record an ECG of high diagnostic quality and that can manage large amounts of ECGs and patients. Zenicor is one of few systems fulfilling these requirements. This, in combination with the knowledge that this system has already successfully been used in large studies made Zenicor an obvious choice for our research.”
Co-applicant Richard Hobbs, Professor of Primary Care Health Sciences at the University of Oxford and Director of the NIHR School for Primary Care Research, said: “There’s currently not any evidence on whether systematic screening for atrial fibrillation works, so the National Screening Committee is not able to recommend it. Whether or not this research shows that screening is effective and cost effective, it will be a landmark trial that will affect UK screening guidance and guidance elsewhere around the world.”