Check the pulse

By Aideen O'Flaherty 

A RETIRED civil servant who was diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation (AF), a type of irregular heartbeat, ten years ago, is encouraging people to check their pulse to see if they have the condition, which increases the likelihood of suffering a stroke. 

Templeogue man Les Carroll, 63, was diagnosed with AF ten years ago by chance, when he went to the doctor after having a number of fainting spells.

Les Carroll CYMK 02 LIZ

Les Carroll 

Les said: “I used to have a fainting episode once a year, for a number of years, but withinfive minutes of fainting I’d be fine and I’d headoff to work.

“I didn’t think much of it as it only happened about once a year, then about ten years ago it happened a couple of times in one month – that’s when my family marched me to the doctor’s office.”

Doctors carried out a number of tests of Les to establish to cause of his fainting episodes, which was ultimately attributed to low blood pressure, but in the process of their tests the doctors discovered that Les had an irregular heartbeat, and he was then diagnosed with AF.

Les explained: “When I was told that I had AF, I didn’t regard it as that big of a deal, I knew it was something that could be managed and looked after.

“I’d heard about it before because my brother-in-law had been diagnosed with it a couple of years beforehand.

“I haven’t had to change my lifestyle, I still exercise and play golf. I don’t have to make any dietary changes.”

One in four of those over the age of 50 are more likely to develop AF, and this condition makes you five times more likely to have a stroke.

The Irish Heart Foundation, which Les is a coordinator for, is encouraging people to take

part in the ‘Prevent a Stroke: Feel the Pulse’ campaign with the 2x2x2 message: place two fingers on your wrist to take your pulse, twice a day, for two weeks.

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

For anyone who may be worried about discovering that they may have AF, Les said: “If someone told me they had been diagnosed with AF, I would want to reassure them that it hasn’t affected my life.

“I still do all the things I love to do, it doesn’t affect me day-to-day.

“I still work as a coordinator for two Stroke Survivors Support Groups and I have to say it’s the best job in the world and it gives me immense satisfaction.”

Les is the coordinator of the Irish Heart Foundation’s Stroke Survivors Support Groups in Tallaght and Crumlin, which meet on a weekly basis to chat, work out with a personal trainer who specialises in doing exercises for people who disabilities, and they also go on group outings.

The Tallaght group meets in Rua Red every Tuesday from 11am to 1pm, while the Crumlin group meets every Thursday in St Bernadette’s Church from 10.30am to 12.30pm.

To find out more details about the support groups and the ‘Prevent a Stroke:

Feel the Pulse’ campaign, visit www.irishheart.ie/feelthepulse

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