Irish Heart Foundation says check your heart rate to avoid a disabling stroke

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Find Atrial Fibrillation before a stroke finds you: The Irish Heart Foundation, the national charity fighting heart disease and stroke, is urging the public to learn how to take their pulse to help detect an irregular heartbeat which may help prevent a stroke.

Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is the most common heart rhythm disorder which carries a five-fold additional risk of stroke but regular pulse checks can help detect it.

Dr Angie Brown Medical Director of the Irish Heart Foundation and consultant cardiologist said: “Atrial Fibrillation is a very common cause of disabling stroke in Ireland and by raising awareness of a condition that affects tens of thousands of people in Ireland, and the need for checking your heart rate by regularly checking your pulse; we can prevent more strokes and ultimately save lives.”

Today more than 40,000 people over 50 years old in Ireland suffer from Atrial Fibrillation, but the vast majority are unaware of it with just 26% of the population having heard of the condition. The Irish Heart Foundation is running a national radio awareness campaign, supported by Pfizer and Bristol Myers Squibb, encouraging adults to learn how to take their pulse or to call the Irish Heart Foundation’s Helpline on Freephone 1800 25 25 50.

Paul Reid, Managing Director Pfizer Healthcare Ireland added: “Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is a serious heart rhythm disorder but the good news is that it can be managed effectively once diagnosed. Pfizer and Bristol Myers Squibb are proud to support this important public awareness campaign.”

There are about 8,000 strokes in Ireland annually, approximately a third of which are associated with Atrial Fibrillation. Some people have no symptoms of AF and are only diagnosed at a routine check-up, or following a serious event like a stroke. But there can be warning signs and these include palpitations, tiredness, shortness of breath, dizziness, or feeling faint.

According to the Irish Heart Foundation, the chance of developing AF can increase if a person has one or more medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.  AF can affect adults of any age, but it is more common as people get older.

Dr Brown continued: “Although Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is generally not life-threatening, it is a serious condition and can lead to serious complications such as stroke and other heart problems. The good news is that greater recognition and treatment of AF can reduce stroke risk by 65%. Getting to know your pulse is the first step to help detect the condition which can then be diagnosed with your doctor. A normal heart rate is between 60 and 100 heartbeats per minute but some people can have heart rates over 100. You should see your doctor if you have a persistent heart rate above 120 beats per minute or below 40 beats per minute or if your pulse feels irregular.”

The good news is that AF can be treated with medicines and medical procedures to regulate your heartbeat and reduce your risk of stroke.

If you think you have any of these symptoms, or want to speak to an Irish Heart Foundation nurse today and learn how to take your pulse, Freephone 1800 25 25 50.

The campaign is supported by Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

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