For many people with atrial fibrillation, the first time they discover they have the heart condition is when they suffer a stroke.

While some with atrial fibrillation (AF) might typically experience symptoms such as dizziness, palpitations or a shortness of breath, others will have no symptoms at all. There are an estimated 67,000 undetected cases of AF in London alone.

When AF is diagnosed and managed correctly with anti-coagulants, the likelihood of an individual suffering a stroke is significantly reduced.

 

Pharmacists play important healthcare role

 

Pharmacists can play an important role in identifying atrial fibrillation and helping those patients with the condition to manage it effectively, ensuring they get the proper support and treatment they need.

No appointment is necessary to see a pharmacist and, as most pharmacies have a private consulting room, patients can be sure of a confidential chat.

As highly trained healthcare professionals, pharmacists are ideally placed to determine if someone has an irregular heartbeat—the telltale sign of atrial fibrillation—via a simple pulse check and blood pressure screening that will either be offered free or low cost.

Atrial fibrillation is a long-term condition and a patient’s treatment needs can change over time. A pharmacist can help patients to understand their condition, make sure their medication is working as effectively as it should, and help them to make decisions about their care.

 

Spotting hidden dangers

 

Pharmacists are also very experienced in supporting AF patients with other co-existing health issues, and protecting them from potentially harmful interactions with other types of drugs they are taking.

Antihistamines taken for hay fever and decongestants for colds, for example, can cause complications in those with heart rhythm disturbances. A pharmacist can advise on which over the counter medications are best avoided, and where better alternatives exist instead.

In the case of atrial fibrillation, or any other condition, a pharmacist will always discuss the level of urgency with a patient, advising them when to see a GP or instigating further tests.

While pharmacists are not a replacement for GPs, they do provide important healthcare advice, and can be relied upon as a trusted source of medical guidance, health information, and medicine support.

 

EDX/18/0302 June 2018