Tipton patient urges Sandwell and West Birmingham residents to be on the pulse to avoid a stroke

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Tipton patient Greg Ball was fit and healthy before suffering a stroke last year. Now he is urging Sandwell and West Birmingham residents to be on the pulse ahead of Heart Rhythm Week, which takes place from Monday 3 to Sunday 9 June. 

"From the hospital discharge letter, I learned that my stroke was caused by atrial fibrillation," says Greg (pictured right). "With hindsight, there were occasional signs which I could have acted on if I hadrsz 1greg ball had the knowledge that I now possess. 

"Thanks to very prompt responses from the ambulance service and hospital the consequences were not as serious as they could have been," adds Greg. "I gather there is high risk of another stroke within a year and monitor my pulse daily. Few are aware of the dangers, and it’s vital that people check their pulse regularly."

NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is supporting the campaign which reminds people that knowing their pulse could prove to be a life-saver and reduce the risk of a stroke.

Arrhythmias or heart rhythm problems are experienced by more than 2 million people a year in the UK. Most people with an abnormal heart rhythm can lead a normal life if it is properly diagnosed. An irregular pulse could be a sign that a person has an abnormal heart rhythm. Atrial fibrillation (AF) is one of the most common forms of abnormal heart rhythm and a major cause of stroke which is why checking the pulse regularly is so important. Latest statistics show that there were over 10,000 expected cases of AF in Sandwell and West Birmingham.

The easiest way to check the pulse is on the wrist, just below the base of the thumb. People can feel their pulse in other areas of the body, including the crease of the elbow, in the groin or behind the knee. It’s normal for the pulse rate to change during the day depending on what activity a person is doing, but it should generally be between 60 and 100 beats per minute. Information on how to work out a pulse in four steps is available at http://www.heartrhythmalliance.org/aa/uk/heart-rhythm-week

Prof Nick Harding, Chair of NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG, said: "We are urging people in Sandwell and West Birmingham to get into the habit of checking their pulse regularly. Checking the pulse is simple, it only takes one minute out of the day, preferably first thing in the morning and just before going to bed. One minute could be the difference between knowing if the pulse is regular or irregular.

"AF, or irregular heartbeat, is a serious heart condition which can cause a stroke if left untreated. A person with AF is five times more likely to have a stroke and AF contributes to just under 20% of all strokes in the UK.

"Some people with AF have no symptoms and are completely unaware they have the condition, but it is very important to get AF diagnosed. It is simple to treat – most cases simply require medication – and that treatment could prevent a stroke."

People can find out how to take their pulse by watching this special video at https://youtu.be/ZvkIMdF7M20

World Heart Rhythm Week is an annual event that runs 3 – 9 June and is organised by the Arrhythmia Alliance to help raise awareness of how to detect, protect and correct heart rhythm disorders. For more information visit http://www.heartrhythmalliance.org/aa/uk/heart-rhythm-week