Article for the Sale and Altrincham Messenger
Atrial fibrillation - a heart rhythm problem that can lead to a stroke
What is atrial fibrillation?
Atrial fibrillation is a heart condition that causes a fast and irregular heartbeat. It's the most common heart rhythm disturbance in the UK and is more common as people get older, affecting 10 per cent of the over 65s. The condition can increase the chance of suffering a stroke by five times but once recognised it can be effectively managed and the risk of stroke can be greatly reduced.
How to find out if you have AF?
The best way to detect an irregular heartbeat is just by checking your pulse. You can do this yourself by placing two fingers of your left hand on your right wrist, just below the base of your thumb and pressing lightly until you feel a pulse. If your heartbeat is fast and irregular (usually well above 100 beats per minute) book an appointment with your GP who will investigate this further and refer you if required.
If in doubt get checked
Dr Petr Ruzicka is a consultant cardiologist at Trafford General with a special interest in heart rhythm problems. He advises that people shouldn't panic if their pulse feels irregular. He said: "This can be down to many factors such as tiredness or stress but it's so important to have this checked out so that you can get the right support and treatment if needed. It's a very treatable condition."