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Campaign urges people to check for ‘silent’ heart conditions



The Stroke Association is urging people to check for signs of ‘silent’ heart conditions that could lead to a stroke.

Newly-released statistics for England, Northern Ireland and Wales suggest over one in two (55 per cent) stroke patients have high blood pressure and one in five (18 per cent) have heart rhythm disorder, atrial fibrillation (AF).

Both conditions are often without symptoms and missed diagnosis and treatment due to the pandemic could lead to thousands more strokes, the charity warns.

GP and TV presenter, Dr Hilary Jones, said:

“It’s vital that you get checked for high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation so you can avoid a deadly stroke.

“In many people, these conditions often don’t have obvious symptoms – so taking the time to get checked could prevent a stroke.

“You can get your blood pressure checked at your local pharmacy, at an NHS Health Check appointment, at your GP surgery and at home.

“[If]caught early these conditions can be treated with medicine or changes to your lifestyle, which can reduce your risk of a life-changing stroke.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the health system, with fewer face-to-face appointments across the GP network.

Between March – May 2020, the diagnosis rate of cardiovascular conditions (including high blood pressure) almost halved, dropping to 43 per cent.

High blood pressure is the single biggest risk factor for stroke, while AF increases your risk of a stroke by five times.

Juliet Bouverie OBE, Chief Executive at the Stroke Association added:

“Don’t let the first sign of high blood pressure or atrial fibrillation be a life-changing stroke.

“We know it can be difficult to get an appointment at your GP, but it’s vital that you persist when making this call, or visit your local pharmacy and get checked there.

“These simple checks could save your life.”