What’s Your Beat?

Atrial Fibrillation

Come and check out how your heart beats at the Harvest Launceston Community Farmers’ Market this Saturday.

The University of Tasmania School of Medicine is conducting a research project called What’s Your Beat? The aim of the project is to raise awareness of Atrial Fibrillation which is a fast and irregular heartbeat. This screening program among the local community is being funded by the Tasmanian Community Fund.

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common cardiac rhythm abnormality and a leading cause of stroke. AF tends to have no symptoms and is often undiagnosed. Cost associated with AF are an estimated $1.63 Billion each year.

In most cases there are no symptoms but people may experience general fatigue, irregular and rapid heartbeat, a fluttering or thumping in the chest, dizziness, shortness of breath, and faintness. Ways of reducing the risk of AF is to avoid excessive alcohol intake, exercise regularly, weight and blood pressure control.

People with AF are five times more likely to have a stroke. AF is responsible for 25% of strokes in older adults. Approximately 250 strokes a year in Tasmania are due to AF, and about 60 of these are with undiagnosed AF. All up, about 500 000 Australians are living with AF.

AF can occur without prior medical problems, however the most common risk factors include:

  • Older age (65 years and above)
  • High blood pressure
  • Overweight or obesity
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Diabetes
  • Excessive alcohol intake

AF can be detected with safe and simple tests and will identify people who can benefit from stroke prevention strategies. Screening is not definitive and an electrocardiogram (ECG) will be required if screening is positive. The project team will be at Harvest Launceston this Saturday to talk you through checking your heart beat.