Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Atrial Fibrilation - Pulse Checks in the NHS

I'd never heard of Atrial Fibrillation until I was diagnosed with the condition myself. My theory is that I overdid it campaigning before the last General Election. Was suffering a bit of mild inexplicable breathlessness. The condition was in the UK news a few years ago when Tony Blair was diagnosed with it, and had his heartbeat returned to 'sinus rhythm' by cardio-version - which involves an electric shock. Mine too. Worst part was having a lifetime's luxuriant chest hair growth shaved off. Good news for those who like their men to look like men is that the regrowth is also luxuriant. But it did itch for weeks!

Anyway, there are well over a million people in the UK suffering the condition. Chances of a stroke are multiplied by five. And the strokes are more likely to be fatal or permanently disabling. Treatment can be electric shock or just regular use of an anticoagulant. Some people take aspirin which provides minimal benefit. They should take Warfarin, or perhaps one of the new anticoagulants being developed. Its totally a win-win.

Because I was so shocked to learn that huge numbers of sufferers are being hit by strokes needlessly that I agreed to help establish an Atrial Fibrillation All Party Parliamentary Group.  Our inspiration was lady named Trudie Lobban. Our aim has been to raise awareness amongst the public and health care professionals. Today has been great. We have produced a report calling for 'Pulse Checks in the NHS'. I've been interviewed by ITV Wales for tonight's news and had a chat with Sarah Dicken on BBC's Good Evening Wales. That would never have happened two years ago.

Also need to add a word about Tom James, 28 yr old from Wrexham who won a Gold Medal in the Coxless Fours in Beijing.  He's after a second gold in the London Games in a months time. He's announced today that he intends to retire afterwards.  He saud that kast time! Tom suffers from Atrial Fibrillation - which shows that strength, youth and fitness doesn't guarantee freedom from an irregular heartbeat.  I hope he wins his second gold, and then comes to our next APPG meeting to talk to us and inspire us.  

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