Brighton MP keeps his finger on the pulse

Posted On 22 Sep 2010 at 3:26 pm

Brighton Kemptown MP Simon Kirby is trying to earn a reputation for having his finger on the pulse.

And he’s doing it by trying to raise awareness of a medical condition called atrial fibrillation, the most common heart rhythm disorder in Britain.

The newly elected Conservative is urging his constituents to “know your pulse” after learning that about 700 of them are likely to be affected by the condition.

He was prompted to speak out about the condition by the Atrial Fibrillation Association (AFA), a charity which aims to raise awareness among medical experts, politicians and the public.

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The debilitating condition is thought to be responsible for up to 20 per cent of all strokes and the risk rises sharply after middle age.

Doctors often come across atrial fibrillation and can diagnose it quickly and cheaply with a simple pulse check.

The AFA urged anyone who thinks that they may be suffering from it to book an appointment with their GP.

It also wants pulse checks to be made a routine procedure within the NHS Health Check programme and at seasonal flu vaccination clinics.

Mr Kirby said: “It is astonishing to think that an estimated 700 people in Brighton Kemptown’s electorate have atrial fibrillation.”

He said that many more may have the condition but as yet have not been diagnosed.

He added: “It is important that this condition is understood by medical professionals and patients so that they can be identified at an early stage and treated accordingly.”

Trudie Lobban, the founder of the AFA, said: “We are delighted that Simon Kirby is supporting our campaign to raise awareness of atrial fibrillation, both in Westminster and in the wider context.”

She said that it was a little-known condition yet estimates suggested that it placed a considerable economic toll on the NHS.

For example, she said, patients with a primary or secondary diagnosis of atrial fibrillation accounted for an estimated 5.7 million bed days in 2008, costing the NHS £1.8 billion.

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