Thousands affected by irregular heartbeat unaware they are at risk of stroke

‘Find Atrial Fibrillation before a stroke finds you’ is the latest message from the Irish Heart Foundation (IHF ).

The national charity fighting heart disease and stroke is urging the public to have a regular pulse check to detect an irregular heartbeat that is often unnoticed. 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.

More than 40,000 people over 50 years of age in Ireland suffer from Atrial Fibrillation but the vast majority are unaware of it, with just 26 per cent of the population having heard of the condition. 

There are about 8,000 strokes in Ireland annually, approximately a third of which are associated with AF. AF often has no symptoms, so most people do not know they have it. However, there can be warning signs including palpitations, tiredness, shortness of breath, dizziness, or feeling faint.

According to the IHF, the causes of Atrial Fibrillation are not always clear but the chance of developing it 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.

Paul Reid, managing director Pfizer Healthcare Ireland added: “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.”

The IHF is running a national radio awareness campaign supported by Pfizer and Bristol Myers Squibb, encouraging adults to have a quick pulse check with a healthcare professional.

To learn more about Atrial Fibrillation or to download the Irish Heart Foundation’s free information booklet see www.irishheart.ie or call the National Heart and Stroke Helpline on Locall (1890 ) 432 787.

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