Friday 10th July 2015

​Heart Valve Voice have given their support to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s new quality standard.

Heart Valve Voice have given their support to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s (NICE) new quality standard which sets out priorities for healthcare professionals on the treatment and management of atrial fibrillation (AF) in adults, a condition that can be caused by heart valve disease.

The quality standard includes 6 statements aimed at healthcare professionals caring for people in danger of developing, or who already have, AF. These include:
  • Adults with a type of AF called ‘non-valvular’ who have a stroke risk score of 2 or more (as estimated by their doctor using the CHA2DS2-VASC risk score) are offered treatment with an anticoagulant to lower their risk of having a blood clot that could cause a stroke.
  • Adults with atrial fibrillation who are prescribed an anticoagulant talk with their doctor at least once a year about the types of anticoagulants they could have and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
  • Adults with atrial fibrillation who are taking a type of anticoagulant called a vitamin K antagonist (such as warfarin) have regular blood tests to check whether the dose they are taking is at the right level to reduce their risk of stroke and bleeding problems.
  • Adults with atrial fibrillation who still have symptoms after treatment are referred within 4 weeks for specialised care that aims to ease their symptoms and reduce their risk of having a stroke or heart attack.
The new quality standard also includes NICE’s first developmental statement on the provision and use of monitors (coagulometers) for people on long-term vitamin K antagonist therapy (such as warfarin) so they can check how well the treatment is working.

Matthew Fay, GP, NICE AF Quality Standard contributor and Heart Valve Voice faculty member commented: “It is good to see that NICE has included its first developmental statement to address the rapidly changing health care environment and that this statement is about access to self-monitoring of anticoagulants like warfarin. As many patients are being liberated from the warfarin clinic with the development of alternative anticoagulants, those with significant heart valve disease who must take warfarin are denied this option. This statement will hopefully start to allow them equal access to see the same freedoms being given to others requiring anticoagulation.”

Commissioners, health care professionals and service providers can use this quality standard to improve the quality of care for people with (or at risk of) AF. It can also be used by patients, families or carers of patients to understand what high quality care they could be getting. NICE quality standards are derived from evidence based guidance or other NICE accredited sources and have been developed with help from health care professionals, patients and service users and other stakeholders.
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