In Tasmania, about 250 strokes each year are caused by atrial fibrillation.
About a quarter of AF cases – the most common cardiac rhythm abnormality and a leading cause of stroke – are undiagnosed.
A new research project from the University of Tasmania aims to raise awareness and increase the rate of AF screenings across the state.
What’s Your Beat offers free screenings and information for the common, but commonly ignored condition.
Project leader professor Gregory Peterson said for Tasmanians aged over 65, understanding AF could be the difference between life and death.
“The problem is AF doesn’t have symptoms, so most people don’t realise they have it,” he said.
“Unless they have an ECG [electrocardiogram] or it leads to something far more catastrophic like a stroke.
“This is what we are trying to prevent.”
In other news:
Tasmania has the highest stroke rare per capita in the country, with about 1500 people experiencing a stroke each year.
AF remains the most common cardiac arrhythmia and is a major modifiable risk factor for stroke.
It is associated with five times increased risk of stroke and is responsible for up to 25 per cent of stokes in older adults.
Professor Peterson said Tasmania’s ageing population was a contributing factor to the state’s high rate of cases.
“There is a lack of awareness, particularly in the older generation who are most at risk,” he said.
“A screening for AF is similar to having your blood pressure taken.
“It’s quick, simple and could make a real difference for someone down the track.”
- What’s Your Beat will be at Harvest Launceston on Saturday, January 19 from 8.30am to 12.30pm. All participants will be provided with educational information. If AF is suspected, participants will be referred to a GP.