NHS Aylesbury Vale and Chiltern Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) are reminding people that a simple pulse check can save your life – it is the easiest way to detect an irregular heart beat (called atrial fibrillation, or AF) which can increase the risk of having a stroke.
This week (21 – 27 November) is AF Aware Week, and the CCGs are encouraging everyone to make it a priority to ‘know your pulse’.
One in four people will develop AF; it affects an estimated 1.5 million people across the UK. If undetected it can increase your risk of stroke fivefold.
Yet the condition can be detected easily with simple manual pulse checks that you can carry out yourself, and can be managed with blood thinning drugs (anticoagulants).
It is a good idea to check your pulse at different points throughout the day, before and after various activities. It will change depending upon what you are doing, which is normal. A typical resting pulse should be somewhere between 60 and 100 beats per minute – although there may be normal reasons why your pulse may be slightly higher or slower at certain times (such as exercise, drinking caffeine).
However, if your pulse seems to be either racing or slow some or most of the time and you are feeling unwell, you should seek further advice from your GP. If your pulse is irregular (‘jumping around’) you should also seek advice as this may suggest atrial fibrillation.
Dr Raj Thakkar, Clinical Commissioning Director for Planned Care, and GP at Pound House Surgery in Wooburn Green, said: “An irregular heart beat can have very serious consequences if it goes undetected – it increases the chance of stroke by 500%. But a simple manual check you can carry out yourself can make a huge difference to your health. A normal pulse beats regularly whereas AF feels erratic. If your pulse feels irregular, seems to be racing or is slow, you should visit your GP for advice.
“Early detection and appropriate medical management can help patients avoid long term ill health, helping them enjoy a happier, healthier life for longer. Not only that, but early intervention eases the burden on NHS resources. So please, help yourself and help your health services do their best for you by knowing your pulse.”
For more information on AF and on how to check your pulse, go to www.heartrhythmalliance.org