Heart rhythm problems affect more than two million people a year in the UK. Certain types of arrhythmia can lead to sudden cardiac arrest, which kills nearly 100,000 people in the UK every year.
Many of these deaths could be prevented if heart arrhythmias were diagnosed earlier - this is where World Heart Rhythm Week comes in.
World Heart Rhythm Week aims to raise awareness of arrhythmias and helps to secure early diagnosis for the millions of people suffering from them. Heart arrhythmias occur when the electrical impulses that co-ordinate your heart don’t work properly, causing your heart to beat too fast, too slow, or irregularly.
By making a habit of taking your pulse regularly, many of us can make sure we understand our normal heart rhythm so we’re more aware if something goes wrong.
This year Arrhythmia Alliance
, a dedicated UK heart rhythm charity, aims to undertake the highest number of pulse checks in a week to make the public more aware of their pulse and heart rhythm.
Know your pulse
Checking your pulse is counting how many times your heart beats in a minute. You can find your pulse in places where an artery comes close to your skin, such as your wrist or neck.
To monitor your pulse in your neck, press your index finger and middle finger on the side of your neck in the soft hollow area near your windpipe. To find your pulse in your wrist, put the same two fingers on the inside of your wrist underneath your thumb with your palm facing upwards and your elbow slightly bent.
When you find your pulse, you should count the number of beats you feel for one full minute - the figure you get is the number of times per minute that your heart is beating. Most adults have a resting heart rate of 60 to 100 beats per minute (bpm), and usually the fitter you are then the lower your heart rate is likely to be.
It’s worth visiting your doctor if your heart rate is below 40 bpm or above 120 bpm as this could be due to an underlying problem. Some symptoms associated with an irregular heartbeat are:
- Unexplained shortness of breath
- Dizziness or feeling lightheaded
You should visit your GP if you experience any of these symptoms or if you're concerned about heart arrhythmia.
How to get involved
There are many different ways you can get involved with World Heart Rhythm Week and help to raise awareness. Arrhythmia Alliance have suggested that you:
- Share information about regularly checking your pulse with your friends and family.
- Organise awareness campaigns with your local community in medical centres, nurseries, hospitals or leisure centres.
- Support a local pulse check event at your leisure centre or workplace.
- Share your #KnowYourPulse pictures on Twitter.
World Heart Rhythm week is about understanding how your heart works so you are more aware if your heart begins to beat irregularly.
For further information on keeping your heart healthy, take a look at this Healthy Heart Guide
by our sister website, defibshop.