A high-profile campaign to raise awareness of Atrial Fibrillation - called “Know Your Pulse” - is launching in Corby on Monday 2 July with an event to coincide with the Olympic Torch relay visiting the town.
Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is a serious heart condition which, if left untreated, can cause a stroke. AF or irregular heartbeat affects up to1.9% of the UK population. It can affect adults of any age, but is more common as people get older - in the over 65s it’s about 10%. For these patients, AF is a long term condition and requires treatment to manage symptoms including dizziness, palpitations, tiredness and chest pain. However, some patients may not have any symptoms, and have the condition without even knowing it.
As a known risk factor for stroke, it is estimated 14% of all strokes are attributable to AF. It is easy to treat with medication and if managed effectively, the risk of a patient with AF having a stroke can be reduced by at least half.
The East Midlands NHS Cardiovascular Network (EMCVN) has developed a programme which aims to raise awareness of the condition among healthcare professionals and patients across the East Midlands, and is working with Corby Clinical Commissioning Group in a pilot project which aims to:
• Improve the appropriate detection, diagnosis, treatment and risk management of patients with AF in primary care
• Reduce the numbers of emergency admissions into hospitals
• Improve shared knowledge among health professionals
• Improve the patient experience and speed up access to specialist services.
Partners in the project include NHS Corby Clinical Commissioning Group, Corby Borough Council, Kettering General Hospital, the Atrial Fibrillation Association, Stroke Association, Roche Diagnostics and patients.
As part of this programme, two events have been organised where local people can have their pulse checked by a health professional and find out more about AF. They are:
• Monday 2 July 2012, 10am-2pm, at Corby East Midlands International Pool. This event will coincide with the arrival of the Olympic Torch in the town.
• Thursday 5 July 2012, 10am-4pm, at Asda, Corby
We are also taking Know Your Pulse to the workplace and will be visiting RS Components on 3rd July and at Asda on the 5th July, where we will also be dedicating some time exclusively to store staff.
Know your Pulse will be supported by posters and leaflets which will also be available in community centres, pharmacies and GP surgeries.
Corby and East Northamptonshire MP Louise Mensch is lending her support to the campaign. She said: “I’m delighted to add my backing to this important campaign and would encourage local people to go along to the events and get their pulse checked. Lots of people will be aware of stroke and its symptoms, but atrial fibrillation is not so well-known, so it’s vital to spread the word.”
Dr Kevin Williams, GP at Lakeside Surgery, and lead for AF within NHS Corby CCG said: “Detection of AF is quite simple - it can be identified by a quick pulse check and diagnosis is confirmed by a simple test. Even if people can’t come along to the events, we hope they’ll listen to the “Know your pulse” message, check their pulse and if they do have any concerns, make an appointment with their GP to get checked out.”
Corby Borough Council’s Lead Member for Community, Cllr John McGhee, said: “This campaign is something I will happily support if it will make more people aware of the condition. A check-up to find Atrial Fibrillation is quick and easy and is being offered completely free of charge in next week’s events. Hopefully residents will take full advantage of this opportunity so that more and more people can catch the condition early and treat it appropriately.”
Dr Salman Nishtar, Consultant Cardiologist at Kettering General Hospital said "The normal cardiac pacemaker in the heart sends regular impulses resulting in a regular pulse. In AF these impulses are erratic and irregular causing an irregular pulse.
"Pulse checking by the patient themselves is therefore a simple and convenient way of detecting the problem - and it's really important to contact your GP straight away to establish the diagnosis and start treatment. This will reduce the risk of stroke and heart failure and improves quality of life for the patient - and they can continue to check their pulse to monitor the success of the treatment and control the condition."
Olympic champion Tom James, who won gold in rowing in Beijing, was diagnosed with AF earlier this year, and he is encouraging people to know their pulse.
He said: “As an athlete, being aware of my heart rate is of upmost importance and even more so with my diagnosis of AF. Something as simple as a pulse check can save many lives, preventing stroke and even worse, death. If it’s one thing my diagnosis has taught me - both young and old - AF does not discriminate, and the Know Your Pulse campaign encourages the public to be heart aware, no matter your age or level of fitness.”
Rebecca Larder, Director of the East Midlands NHS Cardiovascular Network, said: “We are delighted to be able to support this public awareness raising campaign. Our Network brings together professionals and organisations, in a co-ordinated manner, to collectively achieve goals for patients that they could not reach separately. Like the Olympic flame travelling through the town, Corby is trail-blazing our work in AF and we will be evaluating its success to see if it can be rolled out across the region.”
Jo Jerrome, Deputy CEO of Atrial Fibrillation Association (AFA) said; “The Atrial Fibrillation Association is committed to highlighting the need for pulse checks as a means of detecting atrial fibrillation, a leading cause of stroke. The Know Your Pulse campaign encourages members of the community to become more heart aware, and could potentially save thousands of lives, starting with the residents of Corby.”