At talkhealth we understand the importance of monitoring your health for any irregularities. Very often we brush off unusual activity in our bodies and ignore any tell-tale signs telling ourselves ‘It’ll be fine, it’ll pass’. In line with Heart Rhythm week however, talkhealth want you to sit up and take notice.
Signs and Symptoms
Over 2 million Brits experience abnormal heart problems, most commonly known as Arrhythmias, each year. Arrhythmias appear in many forms, with atrial fibrillation, supraventricular tachycardia, bradycardia and heart block being the most common types. In short, Arrhythmias affect your heart beat; either making it beat faster or slower than normal. In many cases, arrhythmia can be quite hard to detect, as the effects can be fleeting and sometimes difficult to notice. Many of the most common symptoms, such as palpitations, feeling dizzy, fainting and being short of breath, could be misconstrued as being something else entirely as having these symptoms does not always mean you have a heart rhythm problem. If you do begin to notice any of these symptoms, please do visit your GP for diagnosis.
When diagnosing an arrhythmia or general problems of the heart, your GP may refer you to a heart specialist who can monitor your heart further for any irregularities.
The best way to diagnose an arrhythmia is with an electrical recording of your heart rhythm called an electrocardiogram. If this recording doesn’t find a problem, you may need further monitoring of your heart.
Further tests may involve wearing a small portable ECG recording device for 24 hours or longer. This is called a Holter monitor or ambulatory ECG monitoring. Once your arrhythmia is diagnosed you can go about making improvements to your lifestyle to ensure your symptoms are kept under control. However, ignoring any symptoms and leaving your arrhythmia untreated can lead to severe complications.
The dangers of abnormal heart problems could be severe, and in some cases fatal:
Cardiac Arrest – Certain types of arrhythmia occur in people with severe heart conditions, and can cause cardiac death. This kills 100,000 people in the UK every year. Many of these deaths could have been avoided if diagnosed sooner.
Stroke – Atrial fibrillation, one of the most common forms of arrhythmia, can in some cases lead to a stroke. Having atrial fibrillation means your risk of stroke is five times higher than for someone whose heart rhythm is normal.
How can you lower your risk?
Arrhythmias can affect people at any age; but are most commonly seen in older people. Here are few ways in which you can limit the likelihood of your developing arrhythmias later in life:
Alcohol Intake – Those who drink excessive amounts of alcohol are more likely to develop arrhythmia. Limiting your alcohol consumption to the recommended amount can limit your chances of developing an abnormal heart problem, while improving your health overall.
Smoking – Smoking can do incredible damage to your heart and can increase your chances of cardiac arrest and stroke. If you would like some information on stop smoking aids, please read our article on talkrespiratory.
Diet – Arrhythmia is far more common in those who do not maintain a healthy weight. By making the change to a healthy balanced diet you can limit your chances of developing a number of diseases while improving your quality of life.
Exercise – Along with maintaining a healthy diet, it is also important for you to exercise regularly. To ensure you are carrying out your recommended daily exercise, use a pedometer to track your steps. This Friday on the 10.06.16 we will be giving away 10 pedometers for Freebie Friday. Keep your eye on our twitter this Friday to be in with a chance of winning!
If you have any tips, advice, or stories about living with arrhythmia, we would love to hear them in the comments section below.
You can read more about arrhythmia awareness via the Arrhythmia Alliance website. You can also join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #heartrhythm.
For more information regarding arrhythmia, please visit NHS Choices.