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Simple Home Test Can Halve The Risk Of Stroke And Cut The Risk Of Death For Thousands Of Patients On Warfarin Therapy

MPs, clinicians and patients are uniting to drive change for patients on long-term warfarin

A simple self-monitoring test could reduce the risk of stroke by half in thousands of people who currently take warfarin to prevent blood clots. Better access to self-monitoring of international normalized ratio () levels, which measures how long it takes blood to form a clot, could also lower mortality rates by nearly two fifths,[1] reduce the number of complications and has the potential to save the NHS around GBP62 million a year,*[2] a group of MPs, patients and charities stated last week.

Speaking in Parliament, Virendra Sharma, MP and member of the Health Select Committee, said that many patients who take the anticoagulant warfarin were not benefitting from self-monitoring through either a lack of awareness or issues around access. He stated that “There are more than 1.2 million people in the on warfarin[3,4] but fewer than two per cent of them benefit from self-monitoring.”[5]

He went on to say: “If more patients are able to choose to self-monitor, it would improve the quality of their care and create savings for the NHS. We need to see more opportunities for people to discuss the option of self-monitoring with their GP. So today we are encouraging patients and their families to write to their local MPs asking for self-monitoring technology to be made available on and to register their support for the ACSMA campaign.”

Warfarin is used to reduce the risk of blood clots in conditions such as atrial fibrillation, , pulmonary embolism and in people with mechanical heart valves.

Last week at the House of Commons, the AntiCoagulation Self-Monitoring Alliance (ACSMA) launched a new campaign to increase patient access via prescription to self-monitoring technology for those on longterm . ACSMA comprises four of the UK’s leading charities and patient groups – AntiCoagulation Europe (ACE); the Children’s Heart Federation; the Atrial Fibrillation Association (AF Association); the . Healthcare company Roche is also part of the alliance.


1. Heneghan C et al. Self-monitoring of oral anticoagulation: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet 2006; 367(9508): 404-11.

2. Connock M, Stevens C, Fry-Smith A, Jowett S, Fitzmaurice D, Moore D, et al. Clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of different models of managing long-term oral anticoagulation therapy: a systematic review and economic modelling [online]. Health Technol. Assess. 2007 Oct; 11(38): iii-iv, ix-66.

3. Gardiner et al. Patient self-testing is a reliable and acceptable alternative to laboratory monitoring. Br J Haem 2004; 128: 242-47.

4. Office for National Statistics 2008. Accessed 16 June 2011.

5. Data on file

Source: AntiCoagulation Self-Monitoring Alliance (ACSMA)