Doctors have been advised to embrace a new blood pressure measuring device that is also capable of detecting a life-threatening heart condition, according to the health regulator.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) said doctors could "opportunistically" identify atrial fibrillation in patients by using the WatchBP Home A blood pressure device.
Atrial fibrillation triggers an irregular heart rate and can lead to dizziness, shortness of breath and palpitations, while also increasing the risk of stroke by up to five times.
However, many of the 800,000 people who suffer with the condition in the UK do not experience any symptoms, making an abnormally fast heart rate almost impossible to detect.
A spokeswoman for NICE said that people over 65 would be the ones to benefit the most, as they already have their blood pressure checked on a regular basis.
Professor Carole Longson, director of the NICE Centre for Health Technology Evaluation, said: "The evidence indicates that the device can offer advantages in detecting atrial fibrillation opportunistically whilst measuring blood pressure, and that using the device in primary care could increase the detection rate of atrial fibrillation compared with taking the pulse by hand.
"This would allow preventative treatment to be considered to reduce the incidence of atrial fibrillation-related stroke."
Professor Longson believes the device would substantially improve detection rates of atrial fibrillation in "people with suspected high blood pressure or those being screened for high blood pressure".
That view was endorsed by senior officials at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), who said the blood pressure device should be "welcomed" by professionals in the medical industry.
Maureen Talbot, a senior cardiac nurse with the BHF, said: "This new device won't replace electrocardiograms, but any device that aids in earlier detection of atrial fibrillation should be welcomed."
The Stroke Association revealed that more than 12,500 strokes were caused by atrial fibrillation last year, but claimed many people are oblivious they are living with the condition.
Dr Clare Walton, research communications officer at the Stroke Association, said: "Unfortunately not everyone who has atrial fibrillation will know they have it, yet we know that around 4,500 strokes each year could be prevented if atrial fibrillation patients received appropriate treatment.
"A blood pressure testing machine that can detect an irregular pulse will help identify more people with atrial fibrillation and in turn enable them to receive medication to reduce their risk of stroke."