NHS Blackburn with Darwen CCG

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Know your pulse

Know your pulse

NHS Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is urging you to ‘know your pulse’ during the CCG’s AF Aware Week.

The week, which runs from 23-29 November 2015, helps to raise awareness of atrial fibrillation, or AF for short.

AF is a heart condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate. It affects an estimated 1.5 million people across the UK, but awareness of this chronic condition still remains low.

The aims of AF Aware Week are simple: detect, protect and correct.

Dr John Randall, a Blackburn GP and a member of the CCG’s Governing Body, said: “Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm disturbance; it can affect adults of any age, but becomes more common as you get older.  Around 1 in 10 people over the age of 65 will be affected.

“AF can be easily detected with simple manual pulse checks. One of the easiest places to feel your pulse is on your wrist, just below your thumb. Being aware of your pulse is important because it may indicate an abnormal heart rate or rhythm.”

What is a normal pulse?

Between 60 and 100 beats per minute is considered to be a normal pulse, however, there are good reasons why a person’s pulse may be slower or faster.

This may be due to age, medications, caffeine, fitness level and/or any other illness including heart conditions, stress and anxiety.

Atrial fibrillation is also the most powerful single risk factor for suffering a deadly or debilitating stroke – every 15 seconds someone suffers an AF-related stroke.

Dr Randall continued: “If you are feeling unwell and your pulse seems to be either racing or slow some or most of the time, or your pulse feels irregular, even if you do not feel unwell, then please seek further advice from your GP.

“There are several treatments available which reduce the risk of an AF-stroke significantly. Mostly this is in the form of anticoagulation, sometimes called blood thinning. It is worth noting, aspirin is no longer recommended to prevent strokes caused by atrial fibrillation.”