Pulse checks could prevent thousands of strokes

7 December 2011

The Daily Mail reports that, if doctors checked the pulse of every patient they see, this measure could “prevent 12,000 strokes a year”.

The aim of the pulse checks would be to pick up cases of atrial fibrillation, a common heart rhythm disorder that increases the risk of a stroke

What is atrial fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation is a heart rhythm disorder where the upper chambers of the heart (the atria) contract in a faster and shallower way than normal, causing an irregular heartbeat. While this is happening the heart is less effective at pumping blood around the body

What are the signs of atrial fibrillation?

  • breathlessness
  • palpitations
  • fainting or dizziness
  • chest discomfort

NICE recommends that people going to their doctor with any of the signs described above, or who have had a stroke or mini-stroke, should have their pulse checked manually to see if it’s irregular

News article in full