Pharmacists prevented an estimated 886 strokes in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF), according to a review of GP patients.

The review monitored use of anticoagulants in AF patients with medium or high risk of stroke at 1,028 practices.

More than 28,000 patients had their therapy reassessed in relation to adherence, lifestyle, interacting therapies, preference and other factors.

Of those, 71% were currently taking oral anticoagulants. Their medication was examined by pharmacists and their dosages optimised.

A further 29% (16,705 patients) began anticoagulant treatment for the first time.

Through direct patient interventions, it is estimated that the scheme saved the NHS £22m in associated costs of stroke treatment.

Over one million people in the UK have AF, which can lead to a five-time greater risk of stroke. Causes include high blood pressure, heart valve disease, thyrotoxicosis, and excess alcohol consumption.

During the assessment 12% of all UK patients with AF were reviewed. This has risen to 20% to date since the scheme has continued.

The clinical assessment was presented at the annual RCGP conference on 7 October.

By Alice Harrold