Simple screening can prevent a stroke
Screening older people for a serious condition that causes a dangerously fast heartbeat could prevent thousands of strokes worldwide, according to research by doctors in Tallaght Hospital.
Atrial fibrillation causes a stroke because the abnormal heart rhythm poses the risk of blood clots forming inside the heart.
It is also increasingly recognised as a risk factor for dementia.
But it can be detected by simply taking the pulse, or by handheld ECGs which provide a diagnosis in less than a minute, says Tallaght director of stroke services Dr Ronan Collins.
Dr Collins and his cardiology colleague Dr Robert Kelly, of Beacon Hospital, Sandyford, Dublin, carried out a five-day monitoring study of patients over 60, who had one or two risk factors. They found 15pc of those screened had some evidence of the condition. Once detected it can be treated with medicine to reduce the risk of a blood clot.