New NHS deal for blood thinner could prevent 20,000 strokes

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Amanda Pritchard, NHS chief executive, told health leaders new agreements for direct oral anticoagulants would see their use dramatically scaled up. It is hoped this will prevent more than 20,000 strokes and 5,000 deaths over the next three years.

The drugs help by treating and preventing blood clots in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF), a condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate.

Speaking at the NHS Providers’ Conference, Ms Pritchard said: “The agreements struck by NHS England will save thousands of lives and prevent many more people suffering the debilitating effects of strokes by making this treatment available to hundreds of thousands more patients.”

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Around 870,000 patients are currently taking one of four recommended direct oral anticoagulant drugs. A further 230,000 are on blood thinning drug warfarin.

It is estimated there are 610,000 more people who are undiagnosed, diagnosed but not on treatment, or will develop AF within the next three years.

Helen Williams, NHS England national speciality adviser for cardiovascular disease prevention, said the agreements were good news for the estimated 1.5 million people in England with AF.

She added: “Not only is stroke one of the biggest killers in our country, but it leads to life-changing and often devastating long-term harm for many others.

“By ensuring these drugs are available for people with AF who are at risk of stroke, the NHS will not only prevent serious harm to the people affected, but avoid the need for aftercare which puts additional pressure on the health service.”

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