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Nurs Times. 2013 Jul 31-Aug 6;109(30):18-20.

Benefits of arrhythmia care coordinators.

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  • 1British Heart Foundation, Royal Brompton and Harefield Foundation Trust.


Arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats) are common but can be life threatening. Symptoms can be severe and include palpitations, dizziness, blackouts, breathlessness and even chest pain. These can be highly distressing for patients, causing them severe anxiety and depression if they are not well supported. Early diagnosis is essential to reduce mortality and improve quality of life--the most common arrhythmia--atrial fibrillation--can cause a stroke if left untreated or inadequately treated. While sudden cardiac death is less common in a young person, it is usually due to an inherited cardiac condition that has resulted in a critical arrhythmia. Screening family members at risk can provide timely assessment, psychological support through counselling and treatment with the implantation of a cardioverter defibrillator if necessary. In 2005, a chapter setting out best practice for arrhythmia care was added to the National Service Framework for Coronary Heart Disease. This highlights the need for early diagnosis and expert patient support. In response, the British Heart Foundation launched a pilot programme to fund specialist nurses as arrhythmia care coordinators. Its aim was to develop and improve care pathways, and provide continuity and support for patients diagnosed with an arrhythmia to improve clinical care and emotional wellbeing. An independent evaluation by the University of York showed that these posts significantly improved patients' experiences of arrhythmia services, prevented thousands of readmissions and cut costs for the NHS. This article explains how the new role was successfully implemented.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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