Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is the most common heart rhythm disorder, which carries a fivefold increased risk of stroke. AF is very rare under the age of 50, but prevalence of AF roughly doubles with each advancing decade of age, from 0.5% at age 50–59 years to almost 9% at age 80–89 years. In Dorset, the prevalence of AF is higher than the national average. Recognition and treatment of AF is important as strokes due to AF are preventable.
AF causes the heartbeat to be irregular. Many people have no symptoms, but possible symptoms include:
*shortness of breath,
*a fast, irregular heartbeat (palpitations) and
If you notice an irregular heartbeat then make an appointment to see your GP for a pulse check.
Members of NHS Dorset CCG will join hundreds of others across the country to raise awareness of Heart Rhythm Week 2nd – 8th June. The national campaign is organised by Arrhythmia Alliance (A-A), The Heart Rhythm Charity.
Later this year, during the flu jab clinics, various practices across Dorset will be offering a pulse check to those over 65, to screen for AF.
Dr Adam Fraser from The Bridges Medical Centre states that this is an important screening programme, because many people with AF “do not have any symptoms”. During flu clinics last year, practices in Weymouth and Portland took part in a pilot screening project and diagnosed 22 patients with AF. He added: “These patients are now having treatment to prevent a stroke.”
More information about the pulse checks during flu clinics will be released nearer the time.
Visit NHS Choices website for more information on AF and other heart problems.