And why, because its World Heart Rhythm Week 2020, an annual awareness week that focuses on detecting arrhythmias (irregular heart rhythms) through the promotion of heart safe campaigns.
A regular heartbeat can be sent haywire by conditions called atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter. They have impacted on my life for the past 16 years, and I have had more than enough anxious visits to A and E than I could ever have imagined. I have had three procedures to fix the dodgy electrics in my heart and now face a fourth.
I am lucky in a way, because the symptoms I have experienced in the past have me feeling breathless, weak, and feeling very unwell with the potential to cause a stroke. I now take medication to help prevent a stroke, so I am lucky!
Many people are unaware that they have an irregular heart rhythm and they are the people who can be susceptible to a stroke if untreated.
This week promotes learning about how you can take a simple pulse check and how it could save a life.
Place the second and third fingers of your right hand on your left wrist.
Check for a steady, regular pulse rhythm. Most adults have a heart rate of 60 to 100 beats per minute.
I use a pocket-sized device that I attach to my mobile phone which connects to an app, AliveCor’s Kardia. This monitors my heartbeat and I can relay this to a doctor if my heartbeat looks suspicious.
There are further resources on the heartrhythmalliance website offering advice on how you can know your pulse.
There are also lots of information on mindfulness and healthy living which are a big part of learning to live with a heart that has rogue electrical impulses. I know!!!
I wish there was a badge that I could wear to say that sometimes I will feel unwell, tired and have the feeling in my heart of a million butterflies fluttering fast. Even though I may look normal, I always carry an anxiety…when will the butterflies flutter?? That is what life is like living with a heart arrhythmia, a fear of a recurrent episode.
After my last procedure, almost four years ago, I wrote an article in Woman and Home magazine to raise awareness of common heart conditions that are a leading risk factor for stroke in the UK, you can read about it here.
Check your heart rhythm this week!