Rupert is a theatre director and regularly goes to the gym. In 2007, he was diagnosed with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, but because he has no adverse symptoms, he goes about his life normally.
It was after a gym session a year ago, when I took my pulse, that I realised something was wrong.
I was quite surprised at the irregularity of my heartbeat. It went boom, boom, boom-boom-boom boom. I was concerned, so I saw my GP and he referred me to a consultant cardiologist.
The consultant didan Arteriography , a thallium test (which shows how well blood flows to the heart) and an electrocardiogram (ECG). My heart appeared to be in fairly good condition, but the ECG showed that I had an irregularheartbeat. I was diagnosed with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation.
I was prescribed warfarin to lower my risk of getting a stroke, but no other medication.
Then I heard about the heart charity Arrhythmia Alliance . They put me in touch with the Atrial Fibrillation Association , who were particularly helpful, and I learned a lot aboutatrial fibrillation through them.
Unlike many other people with atrial fibrillation, I have no adverse symptoms, which is puzzling. Apparently, different people react to arrhythmia in different ways. I've no idea what's caused my atrial fibrillation, but I'm being treated for high blood pressure . I have a check-up with my GP every month.
Atrial fibrillation hasn't stopped me from working as a theatre director. In fact, it hasn't affected my life at all.
Atrial fibrillation is a heart condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate. In atrial fibrillation, the heart rate is irregular and can sometimes be very fast. In some cases, it can be considerably higher than 100 beats a minute.
Some people with atrial fibrillation, particularly older people, don't have any symptoms. The abnormality in heart rhythm is often only discovered during routine tests or investigations for another condition.
The exact cause of atrial fibrillation is unknown, but it's more common with age and affects certain groups of people more than others. Atrial fibrillation is common in people with other heart conditions.
Checking and assessing your pulse can give you a good indication of whether you have atrial fibrillation, but a full medical investigation will be needed before a diagnosis can be made.
Treatments for atrial fibrillation include medications to control heart rate and reduce the risk of stroke, and procedures such as cardioversion to restore normal heart rhythm.
People with atrial fibrillation are at increased risk of having a stroke. In extreme cases, atrial fibrillation can also lead to heart failure.
Frances, 57, was diagnosed with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation and keeps her heart rate under control with flecainide. Every day, I experience extra heartbeats called ectopic beats, but they're nothing to worry about.
Rupert, 78, is a theatre director and regularly goes to the gym. In 2007, he was diagnosed with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. "Atrial fibrillation hasn't stopped me from working as a theatre director. In fact, it hasn't affected my life at all." says Rupert.