NHS Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commission Group (CCG) is urging you to ‘know your pulse’ in a bid to reduce people’s risk of suffering a stroke.

The message comes ahead of AF Aware Week which runs from 23-29 November 2015, which helps to raise awareness of atrial fibrillation, or AF.

If left untreated, AF is the most powerful single risk factor for suffering a deadly or debilitating stroke – every 15 seconds someone suffers an AF-related stroke.

Atrial fibrillation is a heart condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate. It affects an estimated 1.5 million people across the UK, but awareness of this chronic condition still remains low.

The aims of AF Aware Week are simple: detect, protect and correct. As part of the awareness week and in a bid to prevent stroke in patients with AF, posters and leaflets will be displayed in GP practices and pharmacies encouraging people to know and check their pulse.

Dr Felicity Guest in practiceThornton GP Dr Felicity Guest, the clinical lead for prescribing at Fylde and Wyre CCG, said: “Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm disturbance; it can affect adults of any age, but becomes more common as you get older.

“AF can be easily detected with simple manual pulse checks. One of the easiest places to feel your pulse is on your wrist, just below your thumb. Being aware of your pulse is important because it may indicate an abnormal heart rate or rhythm.” 

What is a normal pulse?

Between 60 and 100 beats per minute is considered to be a normal pulse, however, there are good reasons why a person’s pulse may be slower or faster.

This may be due to age, medications, caffeine, fitness level and/or any other illness including heart conditions, stress and anxiety.

Dr Guest continued: “If you are feeling unwell and your pulse seems to be either racing or slow some or most of the time, or your pulse feels irregular, even if you do not feel unwell, then please seek further advice from your GP.”

Stroke prevention

The CCG is also working with practice pharmacists and GPs to increase the prescribing rate of anticoagulants in existing AF patients by arranging an appointment for patients with their GP to discuss starting anticoagulation.

Julie Lonsdale, pharmacist lead for medicines optimisation at the CCG, said “There are several treatments available which reduce the risk of an AF-stroke significantly. Mostly this is in the form of anticoagulation, sometimes called blood thinning. It is worth noting, aspirin is no longer recommended to prevent strokes caused by atrial fibrillation.

“Over the past 12 weeks alone we have increased prescribing rates of anticoagulants which will prevent an estimated four strokes over the next year in Fylde and Wyre. We want to prevent even more strokes by continuing this work and detecting more untreated AF in our community.”


  • NHS Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is the organisation responsible for planning and buying health services in the area to meet patients’ needs. This is known as ‘commissioning’.
  • Led by family doctors (GPs), the CCG currently serves a population of 152,000 people across approximately 320 sq km of coast and countryside. The majority live in the urban towns of Fleetwood, Thornton, Poulton-le-Fylde, Kirkham and Lytham St Annes, but a significant proportion live in rural villages.
  • The CCG receives a set amount of money from the government – around £200million in 2014/15 – and is committed to spending this wisely for the benefit of local people.
  • Giving you more choice is a priority of the modern NHS. More information is available at fyldeandwyreccg.nhs.uk/choice
  • The NHS Constitution sets out your rights as an NHS patient: nhs.uk/choiceintheNHS/Rightsandpledges/NHSConstitution/Pages/Overview.aspx
  • There are many ways to get involved in health service developments, including joining our Influence membership scheme or your practice’s patient participation group.