The NHS estimates that over 1.4 million people in the UK have Atrial Fibrillation (AF)

This can cause problems including dizziness, shortness of breath and tiredness.
People usually experience heart palpitations, where their heart feels like it’s pounding, fluttering or beating irregularly, often for a few seconds or, in some cases, a few minutes.

However, most people with AF experience no symptoms and are completely unaware that their heart rate is irregular and at risk of a stroke.

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Did you know that?

  • The risk of stroke is five times greater for people with AF.
  • AF contributes to 1 in 5 strokes in the UK.
  • The incidence of AF increases with age.
  • AF-related strokes are often more severe, with higher mortality and greater disability.

Reasons why AF is often difficult to diagnose

Some patients experience no symptoms and therefore do not come forward to see their doctor.

Many people who arrange to see their doctor often find their symptoms have passed and therefore their doctor is unable evaluate their symptoms and make a diagnosis.

Traditional short-term Electrocardiogram (ECG) Holters devices used by doctors to clinically confirm AF often fail to detect the AF event in the persons ECG trace.

It is estimated by the UK’s Stroke Association that there could as many as 500,000 people in the UK with undiagnosed AF.

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Early detection and diagnosis of AF

It is globally accepted that early detection and diagnosis is essential in order to prevent stroke and other severe health consequences. People with a family history or those experiencing symptoms should see their healthcare professional.

Once your diagnosis is confirmed your health care professional will be able decide on the best treatment options to manage your condition.

Continuous monitoring of AF is particularly useful

Continuous monitoring is more successful at detecting AF than using on the spot ECG testing and traditional short-term Electrocardiogram (ECG) Holters devices. For those people with a confirmed diagnosis of AF continuous monitoring allows them to monitor changes in their AF. Tracking the frequency and duration of AF events and generating important information which they can share with their healthcare professionals refine their treatment plans.

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See your Gp or Call 111

If you have chest pain
• that comes and goes
• that goes away quickly but you’re still worried
If you notice
• a sudden change in your heartbeat
• your heart rate is consistently lower than 60
or above 100 (particularly if you’re experiencing
other symptoms of atrial fibrillation, such as
dizziness and shortness of breath) It’s important
to get medical advice to make sure it’s nothing serious

For urgent advice call 999

If you have sudden chest pain that:
• spreads to your arms, back, neck or jaw
• makes your chest feel tight or heavy
• also started with shortness of breath, sweating
and feeling or being sick
• lasts more than 15 minutes You could be
having a heart attack. Call 999 immediately
as you need immediate treatment in hospital.

*NHS Guidance 2024

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