03 May 2009

Atrial fibrillation

You can read about atrial fibrillation here. You will see there is a 'new' test to diagnose it. The new test takes 21 working days to give you the answer which is not exactly quick. But it might be worth knowing if you have atrial fibrillation. You might be more likely to have a stroke and you might be somebody who would benefit from anticoagulation. Dr Grumble is in the at risk age group but he has not had the new test for 'Afib' as they call it. Is that foolhardy? No. Dr Grumble can feel his pulse. It is regular. He hasn't got atrial fibrillation. A GP could do this and give you the answer straight away. It an old test but, if necessary, he could do a newer test, a twelve-lead ECG. But wait. An ECG could miss atrial fibrillation because it can be intermittent which is one of the reasons listed for having the new test. But look further down the page and you will see that the 'new' test will only diagnose atrial fibrillation if you have it while you have the test done. It doesn't sound as if the 'new' test is any better than a twelve-lead ECG. In fact it sounds rather worse. Are the public being conned?

Wait a minute. The new test is an ECG. Does any of this make sense?

8 comments:

Jobbing Doctor said...

Only of your sole purpose it to make money from a gullible public.

JD.

Northern Doctor said...

Pay for the privilege of a poor man's ECG. The 21 day issue aside; it's not even a 12 lead anyway.

"The test requires no preparation or removal of clothing.
Four single-use electrodes are placed on your wrists and legs, while lying down."

That'll be 4 limb leads only then.

Dr Grumble said...

Quite so, Northern Doctor. It seems a dumbed down version of what you and I would do and as for its newness it looks to be something Eindhoven could have done at the beginning of the last century.

the a&e charge nurse said...

A friend of mine had an ECG (she developed chest pain after cardiothoracic surgery).

The operation was performed in the private sector, so she received an itemised bill at the end of her treatment.

She was charged nearly £100 quid for a single ECG.

O-N-E H-U-N-D-R-E-D P-O-U-N-D-S !!!!

Can this be right ???

In A&E we virtually have an ECG factory running every day of the week.

Those who spend their life rubbishing the NHS have absolutely no idea how much the alternatives might end up costing them (assuming they are fortunate enough to have the cash to pay for such services in the first place).

Dr Grumble said...

Yep. The people demanding privatisation will end up getting their fingers burned. They seem to think that idle NHS consultants will have to buck up to survive in the private sector. But it's nonsense. It will be quite the reverse. These people are too out of touch to understand.

Sean said...

Do you think Lifelong Screening are open at 4am on a Saturday? That's the time of the week I'm most likely to be in AF, and also the time when I'd like to think I trust my clinical judgement the least...

Dr Aust said...

Isn't this limb-leads-only ECG what larger GP surgeries used to do on patients (including the worried well) and call a rhythm strip? I recall our local practice offering this nearly two decades ago.

BTW, we get our first year medical students to measure rhythm strips on each other as one of their practical classes. It's just a shame they are not in the age range where we could tell them we are doing them a favour by ruling out AF.

On the other hand, if I could get the stressed middle-aged academics and University administrators into the practical lab... perhaps for a modest charge...

Dr Grumble said...

I think you're right, Dr Aust. You could say it serves the purpose. Dr G thinks it is a con.