Di­ag­no­sis in a heart­beat

An ir­reg­u­lar heart­beat could be the sign of an un­der­ly­ing health prob­lem, say med­i­cal ex­perts at Ex­eter Heart

Devon Life - - Promotion -

The Ex­eter Heart team is rais­ing aware­ness of the symp­toms of an ir­reg­u­lar heart­beat, known as ar­rhyth­mia, and what to do if you sus­pect you or some­one you care about is at risk.

Ex­eter Heart, based at the Nuffield Hos­pi­tal, Ex­eter, is a unique col­lab­o­ra­tion formed by lead­ing car­di­ol­o­gists to of­fer the lat­est tech­niques in the di­ag­no­sis and treat­ment of heart con­di­tions.

Con­sul­tant car­di­ol­o­gist Pro­fes­sor Nick Bel­lenger, on be­half of Ex­eter Heart, ex­plains why the electrics of the heart can go wrong and why it is so im­por­tant: “There are many rea­sons why elec­tri­cal sig­nalling through the heart can go wrong. These in­clude is­sues with the heart’s nat­u­ral pace­maker, the elec­tri­cal con­duc­tion sys­tem, and dam­age to the heart mus­cle that can block or cause ab­nor­mal elec­tri­cal sig­nal to cer­tain parts of the heart wall. For­tu­nately

‘With no wait­ing lists at our hos­pi­tal we’re able to help peo­ple get on with life as quickly as pos­si­ble’

many pa­tients with pal­pi­ta­tions have ex­tra heart beats which do not cause any dam­age or need any treat­ment beyond re­as­sur­ance.”

These are some signs and symp­toms to look out for: • A flut­ter­ing in your chest • A rac­ing heart­beat (tachy­car­dia) • A slow heart­beat (brady­car­dia) • Chest pain • Short­ness of breath • Light­head­ed­ness, dizzi­ness, faint­ing (syn­cope) or near faint­ing

These symp­toms are rel­a­tively com­mon and can also be caused by dis­or­ders like de­hy­dra­tion and anaemia, but it could be worth get­ting your heart checked by a GP or car­di­ol­o­gist to make sure there is not a more se­ri­ous un­der­ly­ing cause. Dr Matt Lovell, a con­sul­tant car­di­ol­o­gist who spe­cialises in rhythm dis­tur­bances, ex­plains: “Some pa­tients may have ab­nor­mal heart rhythms such as atrial fib­ril­la­tion. Atrial fib­ril­la­tion, for ex­am­ple, can cause dis­abling symp­toms in­clud­ing fa­tigue and short­ness of breath, and can in­crease the risk of suf­fer­ing from a stroke. Cor­rectly iden­ti­fy­ing and treat­ing pa­tients with atrial fib­ril­la­tion is vi­tal to im­prove qual­ity of life and sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce the num­ber of pa­tients suf­fer­ing a stroke.”

Di­rec­tor of Nuffield Health’s Ex­eter Hos­pi­tal, Paul Tay­lor says: “Peo­ple can be miss­ing out on ma­jor events and ac­tiv­i­ties in their later years, be­cause of wait­ing for med­i­cal tests and treat­ment. With no wait­ing lists at our hos­pi­tal we’re able to help peo­ple get on with life as quickly as pos­si­ble. Even if you don’t have pri­vate med­i­cal in­sur­ance you can ac­cess our care by pay­ing for your­self.”

Ex­eter Heart of­fers rapid, con­ve­nient and af­ford­able treat­ment at Nuffield Health Ex­eter Hos­pi­tal. Fa­cil­i­ties in­clude state of the art car­diac MRI, a new catheter lab of­fer­ing stents, pace­mak­ers and AF and elec­tri­cal ab­la­tion.

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