Patients at risk of a condition that can increase the likelihood of strokes could be spotted sooner thanks to an innovative new tool developed by Norwich scientists.

Researchers at the University of East Anglia have come up with a new way of identifying patients at risk of an irregular heartbeat, known as 'atrial fibrillation'.

The condition, while not life-threatening, increases people’s risk of having a stroke by up to five times.

The UEA team's study reveals four factors that can predict which patients will have atrial fibrillation - including older age, higher diastolic blood pressure and problems with coordination and function of the upper left chamber of the heart.

Norwich Evening News: Dr Vassilios VassiliouDr Vassilios Vassiliou (Image: European Society of Cardiology)

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The team created a tool for doctors, which they hope will help diagnose and treat more patients, reducing risk of future strokes.

Lead researcher Prof Vassilios Vassiliou, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School and honorary consultant cardiologist at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said: "Identifying who is at high risk and more likely to develop atrial fibrillation is very important.

"This is because it requires specific treatment with anticoagulants, commonly known as blood thinners, to reduce the risk of future strokes."