New deal for blood thinning drugs ‘could prevent 5,400 deaths a year’

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Around 600,000 patients with an abnormal heart rate are to benefit from a new type of blood thinning drug after health leaders struck a new deal with manufacturers.

It is hoped the deal for direct oral anticoagulants as “alternatives to warfarin” along with “enhanced case finding” could save the lives of 5,400 people every year.

The NHS also hopes that the deal will help to prevent more than 21,700 strokes.

Atrial fibrillation is a heart condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate.

Direct oral anticoagulants prevent strokes by treating and preventing blood clots in patients with atrial fibrillation.

In a speech to the NHS Providers conference, NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard said: “The real prize – the real mark of success – would also be having to deliver far less of certain treatments, because we’d intervened earlier.

“This is particularly the case when it comes to heart conditions – still one of the biggest killers, and in many cases preventable.

“So as part of our continued Long Term Plan ambition to bring down those avoidable deaths I can also announce that the NHS has agreed a new framework with suppliers that will allow us to roll out effective blood-thinning drugs to more than 600,000 patients with atrial fibrillation.

“By using national level procurement to widen the availability of Direct Oral Anticoagulants as alternatives to Warfarin combined with enhanced case finding and the excellent work already going on locally we estimate we can avoid 21,700 strokes and save 5,400 lives over the next three years.

“This is another example of the NHS taking a long term view, and working hard to get the best deal now, so that patients and taxpayers alike can benefit for years to come.”

Health leaders said the agreement on direct oral anticoagulants comes after the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) recommended the drugs as being more effective for the prevention of atrial fibrillation-related stroke than other anticoagulants – with warfarin still being used for some patients where appropriate.

The NHS is also using new technology to diagnose those with potentially fatal heart conditions.

In a pilot, more than 5,000 people have been given wearable patches that use AI technology to analyse their heart rate, diagnosing potentially fatal conditions.

The technology provides clinicians with all the information they need to make a quick diagnosis and start treatment without the need for patients to undergo lots of tests and hospital visits.

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