A pharmacist at PharmaC is dispensing more than just medication.
Burhan Zavery, who works for Clatterbridge Pharmacy Ltd at the hospital, is testing people for atrial fibrillation (AF) - an irregular heart rate - using a device attached to his iPad.
The pharmacist, from Wirral, volunteered to become an AF Ambassador to help spot colleagues, friends and relatives at risk of a stroke.
The AF Ambassadors are volunteers recruited by the Innovation Agency, the Academic Health Science Network for the North West Coast, working in partnership with the Stroke Association, to identify people who may have AF - a condition which can increase the risk of stroke fivefold.
AF is a factor in one in every five strokes and the North West has one of the highest AF related stroke rates in the UK. Each stroke costs the NHS and social care services around £24,000 in the first year alone.
The Innovation Agency has trained the Ambassadors to use AliveCor Kardia devices - portable Electrocardiogram (ECG) monitors, which attach to the back of a mobile smartphone or tablet and display a heart trace reading on an app.
AliveCor’s technology captures the heart rate of the user in just 30 seconds and shows an alert if the user’s heart rate is outside the normal range.
When this happens, the Ambassador will advise the person to visit their GP as soon as possible and will email an ECG trace to the user with a letter for their GP.
Since becoming an Ambassador in July, Burhan has already tested nearly 200 of his family, friends and colleagues at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre.
“It has been really well received,” said Burhan. “Everyone has been intrigued and keen to participate.
“So far, I’ve screened the whole of the HR department, as well as the governance team, nurses and office staff. I have identified six abnormal heart rhythms. Everyone loves it as it’s so quick and easy to use.”
Burhan volunteered to become an Ambassador to help raise awareness of AF and stroke.
He said: “This is a great opportunity to engage people in conversation about AF and stroke and get people to think about looking after their hearts. And the fact that something so simple could identify problems and perhaps prevent a stroke is brilliant.
“As a pharmacy, we already offer smoking cessation, blood pressure and glucose testing, as well as offering advice on diet and healthy lifestyles, so this is another service we can offer.”
Burhan’s colleague Jo Upton, a chemotherapy advanced nurse practitioner (pictured with Burhan, above), said: “I’ve just been tested and it’s reassuring to know that my reading was ok. I think it’s amazing. I can’t believe how easy and portable the device is.”
Debbie Parkinson, Patient and Public Involvement Lead for the Innovation Agency said: “We are working with the Stroke Association NW and our ambassadors come from all backgrounds, they don’t have to be clinicians and they include AF sufferers, their friends and family, and stroke survivors.
“The device is easy to use and the ambassadors are testing people who would otherwise perhaps not know they have a problem.”