During Heart Rhythm Week which takes place between June 3 and 9, South West Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group is raising awareness to people over 65 to get their pulse rate checked at their local GP practice.
Asking a clinician to feel your pulse at the wrist is a simple way to check for atrial fibrillation (AF), which is one of the most common heart rhythm problems and is a major cause of stroke.
AF affects up to 800,000 people in the UK and is most common in those over 65 years of age. It causes a fast, irregular pulse, which can lead to a persistent heart flutter.
You may also feel dizzy, short of breath and very tired, although many people have no symptoms at all.
Dr Dave Baker, GP and Chair of NHS South West Lincolnshire said:
“Some people with atrial fibrillation have no symptoms and are completely unaware they have the condition, but it is very important to get AF diagnosed. An irregular pulse is a sign that you may have AF.
It is simple to treat – most cases simply require medication – and that treatment could prevent you having a stroke. We would urge anyone aged 65 or over to ask their doctor or practice nurse to check their pulse and show you how to check for yourself.”
South West Lincolnshire CCG will also be encouraging doctors and nurses to carry out opportunistic checks when people aged over 65 are at the surgery. Dr Baker continued:
“We hope that with this approach we will be able to identify more cases of AF and help prevent strokes.”
As well as over 65’s being advised to have their pulses checked, patients of any age are advised to make an appointment with their practice if they notice a sudden change in heartbeat or if their heart rate is consistently lower than 60 or above 100 beats per minute, especially if other symptoms are experienced.
More information can be found on the NHS website nhs.uk/conditions/arrhythmia