Know the symptoms to prevent a heart attack
Experts says filling out a simple lifestyle checklist could prevent thousands of fatal heart attacks and strokes by identifying people who suffer from a “silent killer”.
A survey has found that the public does not know how to identify the warning signs of an irregular heartbeat.
Even though the condition, also known as arrhythmia, affects more than two million Britons, majority are only aware of a third of the symptoms, the survey revealed.
Dr Matt Fay, a GP who has a special interest in cardiology and is a clinical leader for the NHS improvement in heart and stroke, said it was “imperative” the public are better informed.
“Strokes caused by an irregular heartbeat are all too often debilitating, devastating and sometimes fatal. It is imperative that the public are better informed about the warning signs to ensure that these terrible consequences can be averted,” the Daily Express quoted Dr Fay as saying.
“The simple symptom of palpitations in the young can be the first sign of underlying heart problems that can result in collapse or even sudden death.
“This checklist will increase public awareness, empower people and ultimately lead to increased protection,” he noted.
The Arrhythmia Alliance, which commissioned the survey, has launched a campaign called Your Heart in Your Hands to raise greater awareness of the deadly condition as part of Heart Rhythm Week.
The Alliance, also known as the Heart Rhythm Charity, has developed the checklist designed to educate the public and support clinicians. It wants anyone experiencing palpitations, shortness of breath, feeling faint or fainting to complete the list to help them discuss the issue with their GP.
The list asks people how frequently they suffer the symptoms and asks if these are triggered by alcohol, anxiety, stress, exercise, flashing lights or a number of other factors. Other questions include whether there are warning signs such as sweating, light-headedness or nausea and whether there is a family history of heart rhythm disorder.
“Lack of public awareness and misdiagnosis can allow many potentially fatal heart rhythm problems to go untreated. Despite the availability of free and simple checks, authoritative estimates suggest around half of atrial fibrillation patients – the most common heart rhythm disorder – remain undetected,” said Arrhythmia Alliance founder and trustee Trudie Lobban.
“This is frequently because patients are unaware that the symptoms they experience are a sign of anything serious. We call for people to take their heart health in their hands,” Lobban added.
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