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Warning of increased stroke risk

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: January 20, 2014

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RECENT figures show that more than 74,000 people in the region are suffering from a serious heart rhythm problem.

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a dangerous heart rhythm disorder that increases the risk of stroke five-fold, according to new research published by the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

The data, released as part of the BHF’s Ramp up the Red fundraising campaign for heart research, shows the UK has, for the first time, topped the million mark for the number of people living with the heart rhythm disorder.

Atrial fibrillation causes an irregular, sometimes fast, pulse because electrical impulses controlling the heart’s natural rhythm lose co-ordination.

The condition is responsible for more than 1,600 strokes a year in the East Midlands.

Over the past five years the number of people with atrial fibrillation has risen by nearly 20 per cent, with over one million now diagnosed with the condition.

High blood pressure, heart valve disease and binge drinking are among the causes, which can leave sufferers experiencing palpitations, and feeling faint and breathless.

However, some people with the condition have no symptoms at all.

If left untreated, atrial fibrillation can significantly increase the risk of a blood clot forming inside the chambers of the heart, which increase the risk of stroke five-fold.

Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive of the BHF, said: “The real danger with atrial fibrillation is that some people don’t realise they have it.

“You can be going about your daily routine oblivious to the fact you’re five times more likely to have a devastating stroke.

“Checking that your pulse is regular is a simple way of seeing if you’re at risk.

“But only through research can we tackle this dangerous disorder and prevent its devastating consequences.

“That’s why we’re encouraging people in the area to take part in our Ramp up the Red campaign to raise money for life-saving research.”

The rising figure is in part down to the UK’s ageing population.

More information on the disease is available online at www.bhf.org.uk

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