Strokes can be caused by heart disorder

A CWMBRAN resident is raising awareness of a heart rhythm disorder that has a high risk of causing stroke as part of an awareness week.

According to the Atrial Fibrillation Association, one in three adults in the country are unaware of the high stroke risk caused by a common heart rhythm disorder; Atrial Fibrillation (AF).

By the age of 40, people have a 25% lifetime chance of getting the condition, with a possible five-fold increased risk of stroke.

AF patient Denis Smith, 57, from Cwmbran said: “I was diagnosed with AF by accident in hospital about three years ago. My AF comes and goes but I experienced an attack in hospital and luckily it was detected through an ECG, I had been experiencing symptoms of AF for twenty years before hand.

“Today, while I continue to experience symptoms from time to time such as feelings of galloping in my chest, I am now on medication and take warfarin to reduce my risk of AF related stroke.”

As part of AF Aware Week, November (24-30, the charity is calling for detection and protection in AF to be a healthcare priority.

Trustee of AF Association, Professor Richard Schilling, explains how AF can cause severe strokes.

He said: “Atrial fibrillation is characterised by an irregular or fast heart beat. When the upper chambers of the heart, or atrium, do not pump efficiently, blood can pool in the heart. This increases the chance of a blood clot forming.

“In AF, clots tend to be bigger and if these travel to the brain, they could cause extensive damage. Because of this, AF-related strokes are not only more likely to be disabling but also more likely to be fatal.”

However, he added that despite the increased risk of stroke, AF is not life-threatening because it can be managed by appropriate therapy; anticoagulation, that prevents blood clots from forming.

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