SINGAPORE: People above 40 years old have a 25 per cent chance of developing irregular heartbeat that could cause stroke.
Called atrial fibrillation, it is a heart condition which the National University Hospital (NUH) says is a big but under-recognised problem in Singapore.
Atrial fibrillation is the most common kind of abnormal heart rhythm disorder and it increases the risk of stroke by five times.
Such patients run a higher risk of blood clots forming in their heart. These clots can block blood flow to the brain, causing a stroke.
According to NUH, atrial fibrillation affects about 1 per cent of patients over 55, and about 5 to 10 per cent of patients over 80.
Some of the risk factors include age, hypertension and valve disease.
In its study, NUH noted that treating atrial fibrillation can be challenging.
Some reasons include patients’ resistance to anti-clotting medications and mild symptoms.
Assistant Professor Lim Toon Wei, consultant at NUH’s cardiac department, said: "Patients might notice a little bit of an irregular heartbeat. They might notice a racing of the heart beat but often it's just a mild chest discomfort or they feel a little short of breath, they feel tired easily. So the symptoms are not always very distinct. It's quite common for patients to have no symptoms at all.
“If you are over 40 years old, it's probably not a bad idea to get checked up regularly, including getting an ECG done.” - CNA/xq
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