In honor of National Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month, Saint Francis
Healthcare would like to remind patients to check their pulse.
The fluttery feeling in your chest may not be love or even anxiety. If
your heart beats rapidly or irregularly, it could be atrial fibrillation,
or AFib. In people with AFib, blood flows inefficiently into the lower
chambers of the heart (the ventricles). All of these uneven heartbeats
take their toll, allowing blood to back up in the heart and potentially
form clots. If a clot dislodges, travels to the brain and blocks an artery,
you could suffer a stroke, according to the
Other symptoms of atrial fibrillation include fatigue, weakness, shortness
of breath, chest pain, low blood pressure and dizziness. Almost 2.7 million
people in the U.S. have AFib, and certain factors could increase your
risk, including obesity, age over 65, female gender and certain chronic
conditions such as diabetes and sleep apnea.
If you think you might have an irregular or rapid heartbeat, check your
pulse. Normally, your pulse changes during the day from morning to night.
The average pulse is between 60 and 100 beats per minute; however, age,
medications, fitness level, heart conditions or anxiety may affect heart rate.
AFib Alliance offers four easy steps to take your pulse:
Sit down for five minutes before checking your pulse and have a watch or
clock with a second hand available.
Extend your hand palm up with your elbow bent slightly.
Place your middle and index fingers firmly on your palm and move them around
until you locate your pulse.
Count your heartbeats for 30 seconds and then multiply times two to get
your heart rate (beats per minute). If your heart beats irregularly, count
for one minute instead and do not multiply.
If you feel your pulse isn’t normal, call
Partners in CardioVascular Health at 302.421.4828 to schedule an appointment with a Saint Francis cardiologist.
Let them know if your heart rate is above 120 beats per minute or below
40 beats per minute. Simply checking your pulse could save your life.