This week (19-25 November) is Atrial Fibrillation Aware Week – and Derby residents can use a simple pulse check to detect warning signs of the condition.

About 6,500 people are estimated to have atrial fibrillation (AF) in Derby. Some people are undiagnosed as AF sometimes has no symptoms.  It’s a heart condition that causes an irregular and unusually fast heart rate.

AF reduces the heart’s performance. This can lead to low blood pressure and can also increase your stroke risk by around four to five times.  It’s easy to check for signs of AF with a simple pulse check.

Step 1: Sit down for five minutes to bring your heart rate to resting. Turn your left hand so it faces upwards.

Step 2: Place two fingers on your wrist, just beneath your thumb. Press your fingers into your wrist to feel your pulse. Move your fingers around until the pulse is easy to feel. It will feel like a slight throb against your finger about once or twice a second.

Step 3: Count the pulse for 60 seconds to find your heart rate in beats per minute.

NHS Choices full instructions on taking your pulse.

Make an appointment to see your GP if:

  • You notice a sudden change in your pulse (it feels irregular or like it’s jumping around).
  • Your pulse rate is lower than 60 or above 100 (particularly if you’ve recently been feeling faint, dizzy, short of breath or having chest pain).

If you have AF, your GP can try to find what causes it. They can also prescribe medication or another treatment to control the condition.

Whether you have AF or not, you can protect your wider heart health by:

  • Drinking less alcohol if you drink more than 14 units a week
  • Giving up smoking
  • Becoming more physically active
  • Eating well – less salt, sugar and saturated fat and more fruit and vegetables

Talk to your GP or visit www.nhs.uk/oneyou for support to make healthier choices for your heart.

For more information on atrial fibrillation, visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/atrial-fibrillation/