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1 June 2020

Do you know how to check your pulse? Is it beating too fast, too slow? Does it feel irregular? That may be your heart telling you something is wrong.

The Innovation Agency, the Academic Health Science Network for the North West Coast, is urging people to check their pulse during World Heart Rhythm Week.

Created by the Arrhythmia Alliance, World Heart Rhythm Week takes place from 1-7 June and the key message this year is Don’t Miss A Beat to highlight the importance of knowing and understanding our heart rhythms.

Arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythm disorder) is the number one killer in the UK and causes up to 100,000 sudden cardiac arrests each year killing more people than breast cancer, lung cancer and AIDS combined.

But 80 per cent of these deaths could be avoided if more people were aware of their heart rhythm - not just their heart rate. Something as simple as knowing your pulse, can save your life or reduce your risk of a debilitating or life-threatening atrial fibrillation (AF) related stroke – the most severe type of stroke.

As part of its mission to reduce the number of AF-related strokes in the North West Coast, the Innovation Agency has recruited a group of volunteers who are using mobile ECG devices to test pulses in their communities.

Anyone with an irregular pulse is signposted to their GP. If they are diagnosed with AF, the condition can be easily treated with anticoagulant medication.

Due to social distancing, the AF Ambassadors are unable to carry out pulse tests during the coronavirus outbreak but people can still check their own pulses at home.

Patient and public involvement lead Debbie Parkinson who has trained over 100 people in the region to become AF Ambassadors said: “With the introduction of mobile ECGs apps and smartwatches, everyone can test their heart rhythm.

“But if you have not got access to one of a device or app, you can still easily take your own pulse.

“It only takes 30 seconds and is so simple that anyone can learn how to do it. If you notice anything irregular, do not hesitate to call your GP.”

Watch a video to find out how to take your pulse yourself here.

Meanwhile, the Innovation Agency would like to invite people living with AF to take part in a survey and/or telephone interviews to enable us to understand any challenges they are experiencing in taking their medication and how we can support them to manage their condition. Participants will be rewarded with high street vouchers. Please visit the survey here.

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