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Heart illness sufferers top 1m mark

14 January 2014 09:41

More than a million people in the UK now live with a condition that causes the heart to beat irregularly and can lead to strokes

More than a million people in the UK now live with a condition that causes the heart to beat irregularly and can lead to strokes

The number of people in the UK who now live with a condition that produces irregular heartbeats has topped the million mark for the first time.

The instances of atrial fibrillation, which can cause strokes, have increased by nearly a fifth on five years ago, according to latest British Heart Foundation (BHF) research.

The charity has attributed the increase to high blood pressure, heart valve disease, binge drinking and the fact people are living longer.

This heart ailment produces an irregular and often unusually quick heart rate, commonly resulting in dizziness and shortness of breath.

Patients may also experience palpitations and grow extremely fatigued.

But having a heart condition doesn't mean people have to wave goodbye to holidaying around the world to their favourite destinations.

Travellers with a heart condition are reminded of the importance of arranging pre-existing medical travel insurance before jetting off on holiday.

A regular heart should beat between 60 and 100 times a minute when people are relaxing, with a regular rhythm.

Some atrial fibrillation sufferers are symptom-free and are totally oblivious that their heart rate is erratic.

The coronary condition, if left untreated, can substantially raise the danger of a blood clot forming inside the heart, which increases the risk of stroke five-fold.

Atrial fibrillation is behind 22,500 strokes a year in the UK, the BHF said.

Simon Gillespie, the charity's chief executive, said the big danger with atrial fibrillation is that some sufferers are unaware they have it.

He said: "You can be going about your daily routine oblivious to the fact you're five times more likely to have a devastating stroke."

One easy method of finding out if you are at risk is to check your pulse, said Mr Gillespie.

He added: "Only through research can we tackle this dangerous disorder and prevent its devastating consequences."

The information was announced as part of the BHF's Ramp up the Red fundraising initiative.

The charity is calling on as many people as possible to dress up in red on February 7 to raise money for the charity.