A CUTTING-edge stroke prevention test will be available for free on the St Helens streets this week at a series of events held across the borough.

NHS St Helens Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in partnership with the Innovation Agency is providing the test, which is designed to spot atrial fibrillation (AF) - an easily treatable condition that results in an irregular heart beat which can lead to serious conditions such as heart failure and stroke.

This follows shocking figures that show that the North West has one of the highest AF-related stroke rates in the UK with at least 20,000 people in the region – and more than 800 people in St Helens – who are unaware they have AF.

The events are designed to make people in St Helens aware of AF and how a simple pulse rhythm check can help identify people at risk and involves a recording device in the shape of a stick with metallic handles at both ends.

Events will be attended by the Innovation Agency’s ‘AF Ambassadors’ such as stroke survivor, Kim Hughes, who said: "A quarter of people who have a stroke are under 65 and I was just 33 when I had mine.

"I thought strokes only happened to older people – I was petrified.”

“I want to help prevent strokes because I know the damage they can cause to the victims and their families.”

Those with a positive result will be advised that early treatment can be life-saving and to book an appointment with their GP.

If diagnosed with AF they will be prescribed anticoagulant medication which can help prevent a person with AF from having a stroke.

The test is open to members of the public over the age of 55 at the following events:

Church Square - Tuesday, September 18

St Helens Hospital - Wednesday, September 19

ASDA St Helens - Thursday, September 20

Dr Ruth Hunter, senior commissioning and transformation manager for NHS St Helens CCG, added: “We are working with colleagues across the community to raise awareness of Atrial Fibrillation to help prevent strokes and are holding drop in sessions at a number of local venues to encouratge people over 55 to come along and have the simple test.

"We estimate that locally there are approximately 854 undiagnosed AF patients in St Helens, but once the condition is identified it can be easily treated.”

If you are worried about your heart rate, you can take your pulse manually at home. Visit the Heart Rhythm Alliance at heartrhythmalliance.org for details of how to take your pulse.