Black lipstick: Here’s how to pull it off
Black lipstick: Here’s how to pull it off

Jennifer McShane

‘Meghan is right. Working mothers do have to choose between being present or being paid
‘Meghan is right. Working mothers do have to choose between being present or being paid

Amanda Cassidy

What to try this weekend: Gluten-free vegan churros with a caramel dipping sauce
What to try this weekend: Gluten-free vegan churros with a caramel dipping sauce

Meg Walker

How to increase your confidence and why it’s crucial
How to increase your confidence and why it’s crucial

Niamh Ennis

The scariest thing about Halloween? Competitive parenting
The scariest thing about Halloween? Competitive parenting

Sophie White

Add some colour to your living room with these punchy cushion designs
Add some colour to your living room with these punchy cushion designs

Megan Burns

Five perfect matte lipsticks that your mask won’t budge
Five perfect matte lipsticks that your mask won’t budge

Holly O'Neill

Slightly Christmassy movies that are totally acceptable to watch before Halloween
Slightly Christmassy movies that are totally acceptable to watch before Halloween

Lauren Heskin

This Glenageary home with a charming double-height extension is on the market for €1.875 million
This Glenageary home with a charming double-height extension is on the market for €1.875 million

Megan Burns

Surrogacy: ‘As soon as I lay a foot on Irish soil I become a legal stranger to my son’
Surrogacy: ‘As soon as I lay a foot on Irish soil I become a legal...

Amanda Cassidy

Image / Editorial

‘I knew something was wrong’: This simple at-home pulse check can help prevent a stroke


by Grace McGettigan
29th Nov 2018
‘I knew something was wrong’: This simple at-home pulse check can help prevent a stroke

Rebecca Redmond was 44 when she was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. While it’s impacted her wellness and energy levels, she’s nonetheless positive about managing her condition. Speaking to us about the Irish Heart Foundation’s Prevent a Stroke: Feel the Pulse campaign, she says a simple, at-home pulse check can help others recognise (and subsequently treat) the illness early. 


What is atrial fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation (also known as A-Fib or AF) is a condition whereby your heart beats in a disorganised and irregular way. While some people with the condition will experience no symptoms at all, others will experience tiredness, dizziness, palpitations, chest pain, and shortness of breath.

What’s more, people with atrial fibrillation who are not treated are five times more likely to have a stroke. For that reason, early detection is crucial.

“Because I was so young, the heart was the last place they were looking…” 

“Looking back now, I had all the classic symptoms of atrial fibrillation – I just didn’t know it,” Rebecca tells IMAGE.ie. “The symptoms built up over time. I had complete exhaustion – not just ‘I feel tired’ – I was really wiped. I had breathlessness; a little bit of dizziness; and I had swelling in both of my legs, which was so painful I went to A&E three times.”

But as a young mum of three with no family history of heart problems, she (and her doctors) never even considered it could be atrial fibrillation. “I knew something was wrong, but it was hard to diagnose,” Rebecca says. “It was scary. Because I was so young and healthy looking, the heart was the last place they were looking.”

Photo by Marc O’Sullivan via Irish Heart Foundation

Living with A-fib

It’s been two years since Rebecca was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, and she’s learned ways to keep it under control.

She says there’s a type of medication called Beta Blockers which can help control the rate of your heart; there are also drugs to help control its rhythm; lastly, there are anticoagulants (or blood thinners) which prevent blood from clotting in the heart. These anticoagulants are particularly important for preventing stroke, which is caused by clots in the brain.

“For me, it’s all about working around my atrial fibrillation and not letting it take over…” 

“I am on the journey now,” Rebecca says, “and I really do everything I can to look after myself. I keep track of my pulse, I eat healthily, I work out, and I try not to get stressed as that can really affect me.

“What people don’t understand is how atrial fibrillation detrimentally affects your energy levels – I don’t have that ‘energy reserve’ anymore, which is definitely a challenge with three boys under the age of 15!

“For me, it’s all about working around my atrial fibrillation and not letting it take over,” she adds. “I advise anyone with atrial fibrillation to look after themselves and keep a diary so you know what your triggers are. This campaign by the Irish Heart Foundation is so important, it’s really simple to check your pulse every day, and it’s something we all should incorporate into our daily routine.”

The Prevent a Stroke: Feel the Pulse campaign

The Irish Heart Foundation says it’s really simple to check your pulse for an irregular heartbeat. “Just remember 2x2x2,” they say, “two fingers on your wrist, twice a day, for two weeks.” See step-by-step instructions below:

  1. Sitting in a chair, rest your arm, palm facing upwards, on the arm of the chair or on a table.
  2. Put two fingers – your middle finger and index finger – on your wrist at the base of your thumb.
  3. Press down gently until you feel your pulse.
  4. Use a watch, clock or phone to time 30 seconds. Count the number of beats you feel in 30 seconds and then multiply the result by two. This is the number of beats per minute.

Remember:

  • A normal resting pulse is between 60 and 100 beats per minute, and the beats are regular.
  • Do this twice a day, for two weeks, and use the Irish Heart Foundation’s Pulse Check card to keep a record.
  • Make sure you’re sitting down when you check your pulse and don’t drink caffeine or alcohol or smoke beforehand.

 

If your pulse feels irregular, very fast or you have difficulty feeling your pulse, contact your doctor or freephone the Irish Heart Foundation’s Heart and Stroke Helpline on 1800 25 25 50.

For more information, visit: irishheart.ie/feelthepulse

Also Read

‘I knew something was wrong’: This simple at-home pulse check can help prevent a stroke
EDITORIAL
‘Meghan is right. Working mothers do have to choose between being present or being paid

Not everyone was happy about the Duchess of Sussex getting involved in US politics. But her letter on behalf of...

By Amanda Cassidy

‘I knew something was wrong’: This simple at-home pulse check can help prevent a stroke
EDITORIAL
‘Romy & Michele’ actress Cortney Wolfston on being fired while pregnant

“I was confused. Hadn’t I just been told this was a perfect time to be pregnant?” she questioned. Actress Cortney...

By Sarah Finnan

‘I knew something was wrong’: This simple at-home pulse check can help prevent a stroke
EDITORIAL
This spatchcock chicken recipe will make your weekend

This is a great way to get a juicy roast chicken, bursting with flavour.     Bord Bia’s Spatchcock Chicken...

By Meg Walker

‘I knew something was wrong’: This simple at-home pulse check can help prevent a stroke
EDITORIAL
Sarah Harding’s heartbroken mum announces the singer’s death aged just 39

Sarah Harding has died at the age of just 39, her heartbroken mother revealed today. The Girls Aloud star had...

By Amanda Cassidy

‘I knew something was wrong’: This simple at-home pulse check can help prevent a stroke
premium EDITORIAL
Business Club members get your complimentary tickets to The IMAGE Business Summit 2021

Don’t miss this year’s IMAGE Business Summit, with an expert line-up, skills masterclasses, keynote addresses and more.Back by popular demand,...

By Shayna Sappington

‘I knew something was wrong’: This simple at-home pulse check can help prevent a stroke
EDITORIAL
Attending multiple weddings this year? How to save money as a guest

These days, going to a wedding is the equivalent of going on a short holiday in terms of cost. From...

By Jennifer McShane

‘I knew something was wrong’: This simple at-home pulse check can help prevent a stroke
EDITORIAL
Trinity Tales: ‘Front Square was her garden, and the city was her playground’

Annie Gatling, now Colleran, knew Trinity College was for her when she saw Front Gate from the top storey of...

By Amanda Cassidy