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Learn to check your pulse and be atrial fibrillation aware

Local health professionals are supporting this week’s Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Week (November 19 – 25) by encouraging people to remain alert to any changes in their heartbeat and to be aware of the symptoms of the condition.

Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is a heart rhythm disorder that causes an irregular and sometimes abnormally fast heartbeat. Having AF means that your heart is not pumping blood as well as it should. Because of this, blood clots are more likely to form in your heart, leading to an increased risk of stroke.

It is estimated that around 4500 people in east and west Suffolk are living with undiagnosed AF. Each year in the UK, AF causes around 12,000 strokes, many of which could have been avoided if AF have been detected and treated. At the age of 40, we all have a 1 in 4 life-time risk of developing AF which increases the risk of stroke by 500%.

Atrial fibrillation – what to look out for

A normal heartbeat should be between 60 – 100 beats per minute when you are resting
With AF your heartbeat can be irregular and sometimes in excess of 100 beats per minute
Symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath and dizziness
You may be aware of heart palpitations where your heart feels like it is pounding, beating or fluttering for a few seconds or even minutes
One of the simplest ways to detect a possible heart rhythm disorder is to take a simple pulse check – watch this short video which shows how you can effectively take your pulse HERE

Dr Imran Qureshi, a Suffolk GP and stroke lead for NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Although atrial fibrillation in itself is not usually life-threatening, it can be a contributing factor in strokes, and so does often require treatment using an anticoagulant, which is a medicine used to prevent blood clots.

“I would encourage people to learn to effectively check their heartbeat manually or, if they can, purchase a heart monitor, and to regularly check that their heartbeat is normal. Look out for the common symptoms and if you have any concerns make an appointment at your GP practice.”
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