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Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Week: November 20-26
20 November 2017

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common heart rhythm disturbance, affecting around one million people in the UK. It can affect adults of any age, but it becomes more common as you get older. It affects about seven in 100 people aged over 65.

AF is a heart condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate. It can also cause problems including dizziness, shortness of breath and tiredness. People with AF may experience noticeable heart palpitations, where your heart feels like it’s pounding, fluttering or beating irregularly for a few seconds to a few minutes.

Sometimes, AF doesn’t cause any symptoms and a person with it is completely unaware that their heart rate isn’t regular.

When our heart beats normally, its muscular walls contract (tighten and squeeze) to force blood out and around the body. They then relax, so the heart can fill with blood again. This process is repeated every time the heart beats.

In atrial fibrillation, the heart's upper chambers (atria) contract randomly and sometimes so fast that the heart muscle can't relax properly between contractions. This reduces the heart's efficiency and performance.

It’s really important that you check your pulse for any irregularities. For more information, including how to check your pulse and when to see your GP, visit https://www.healthysuffolk.org.uk/projects/atrial-fibrillation-week.