Since writing the article below I have come across quite a lot of people that seem to have a similar condition to me but have done nothing about it. Clearly I have advised them to get checked out. Who knows, I might have saved them from the consequences of ignoring the effects of this dangerous condition. Apart from the treatment of the heartbeat itself, either through medical intervention or medication, there is the issue of ensuring that the blood is conditioned to prevent clotting. The tradition way of doing this is by the use of warfarin, a therapy that I have been on for several years. It is not ideal as you have to have regular bloods tests to ensure that you are within the prescribed range. Your INR ( as it called) can be affected by diet so you have to be careful over sudden changes in food. Furthermore you have the risk of bleeds through incorrectly conditioned blood. a problem which in itself can be very dangerous. I was pleased to read that a couple of new drugs have been licenced and are about to appear on the prescription lists. These do not require blood tests and nor are they affected by diet. In short they have very few side effects. The two drugs are: Pradaxa, which has to be taken twice a day and Rivaroxaban which only has to be taken once. At the moment as my warfarin therapy is very stable I am going to remain on it. I generally only have to be tested every 4 months. However, I will be asking my doctor for Rivaroxaban once it has had a period of being used widely. I understand that Predaxa cannot be prescribed for those that have a leaky heart valve.
Quite recently I read about a new device called the Watchman. This device is inserted into the heart to cover a small pocket called the left atrial appendage (LAA). It appears this small blind alley in the heart is where blood will pool if the heart beats irregularly and from which small clots can break off causing a stroke. More details on this can be found by clicking the folowing link (Watchman Device - click here.)
Also of interest to me was an article that I discovered in Athletics Weekly which firmly indicated that people who, as young endurance athletes, trained a high intensity heart rate stood a high risk of contracting Atrial Fibrillation later in life. That is exactly my circumstances and I have always suspected that my athletics career ( modest though it was ) had something to do with it. Those of you interested in the whole article can access it by clicking on this link.
In recent years I have found myself in notable company. People who have an irregular heart beat. Tony Blair, Bill Beaumont, the former England Rugby captain to name just a couple that have been troubled by this very common complaint.
There are in fact over half a million Britons suffering from it and it is potentially life-threatening. Mine started when I was in my mid-thirties with occasional bouts of feeling that my heart was in my mouth, the kind of feeling that you get from sudden vigorous exercise or fright. These infrequent events became more frequent until they settled into a constant irregular beat.
In themselves they did not overly concern me as I was fit with a strong heart and lungs until the day when I had to rest several times whilst walking up a steep hill. Something that had never happened before. Unbeknownst to me I was suffering from a common condition called Atrial Fibrillation ( irregular heart beat ) which is the cause of many people’s strokes. AF is not a benign condition and should not be ignored. I was far too cavalier and as a result suffered a minor stroke which could have been avoided. Fortunately I have fully recovered and now manage the condition to minimise the possibility of it happening again.
In getting Silverlinksnetwork started I want to use the site as a means for people to share experience and advice. The best bit advice I can give anybody right now is not to ignore your irregular heartbeat but get it assessed by your GP right away. Do not give up if the condition is not performing at the moment of an examination. Ask to be fitted with a halter monitor, which records your heart activity and which you wear for up to a week
If you want to learn more then click on the following link to the website run by one of Europe’s leading specialists in the field, Professor Richard Schilling.
picture:© Nicemonkey | <a href="http://www.stockfreeimages.com/">Stock Free Images</a> & <a href="http://www.dreamstime.com/">Dreamstime Stock Photos</a>