AF is a condition that causes an irregular and often unusually fast heart rate. It is though to affect around 1.5 million people in the UK and is more common in men. However, a lot of people do not know they have it.
Why is it important?
When you have AF, the heart's upper chambers (atria) contract randomly and sometime so fast that the heart muscle cannot relax properly between contractions, disrupting the blood flow through the heart,
This irregular blood flow through your heart due to AF increases the risk of blood clots forming, which in turn increases your risk of having a stroke. A stroke is a serious medical condition that occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off
What can it feel like?
AF affects people in different ways, you might feel
- As though your heart is racing or fluttering('palpitations')
- Chest pain, pressure or discomfort
- That exercise is hard or you are unable to exercise
- Short of breath
- Faint or dizzy
However, you might not feel any of these symptoms
Who is at risk
People with certain risk factors have an increased risk of getting AF. Risk factors are based on your lifestyle and medical history, and include
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Over 50 yrs old
- Excessive alcohol intake (over 35 units a week)
- Male gender
- Other heart rhythm conditions
- Thyroid disease
- Problems with nervous system
- Obstructive sleep apnoea
- Excessive caffeine intake (more than 4 cups of coffee a day)
- Cancer (ongoing or previous)
- Working more than 55 hours a week
How to help your heart out
Your lifestyle plays a big part in helping you to keep your heart healthy. The following tips can help to reduce your risk of developing AF, improve your condition if you have been diagnosed with AF and improve your heart health in general
Stopping smoking is one of the best things you can do for your heart health and it's never too late to quit. Did you know that fi you can make it to 28 days smoke-free, you're 5 times more likely to quit for good Visit the Live Well website for practical advice and support to help you quit smoking
Manage Your Weight
A healthy weight is slightly different for each of us. To find out if you're a healthy weight for your height, work out your body mass index (BMI). Visit the Live Well Website's BMI Calculator to work out your BMI.
A combination of balanced diet and exercise can help you lose weight and maintain a weight that is health for you
Eat A Balanced Diet
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is an important part of maintaining good health and can help you feel your best. The Eat Well guide on the Live Well website can help you eat a well balanced, healthy diet.
Do some form of physical activity every day, even if it's only light activity. If you've fallen or are worried about falling, doing exercise can help improve your strength. Balance and flexibility will also help make you feel stronger and feel more confident on your feet.
Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine
Try swapping your usual drink choices with alcohol-free or caffeine-free options to help reduce your alcohol and caffeine intake. It's easy to overlook, but choosing healthier drinks is also important for a balanced diet
The screening test is quick and easy, only taking approximately 60 seconds. Results are available straight away and if needed we can refer you to your GP for further investigation.
O'Briens Pharmacy is offering this AF Screening service in conjunction with Daiichi Sankyo. If you would like to have a FREE AF screening test please book using the link below
Further information on AF can be found at the NHS Website
This screening service is available in all our branches except Cleveleys Health Centre