If you’re wondering whether or not you should be tested for atrial fibrillation (AF) — a condition where the heart beats irregularly or rapidly — now’s your chance. As part of AF Awareness Week, which runs from September 21-27, charity organisation Hearts4Heart has launched a new smartphone app Feel The Beat that can check your heart rate and calculate your risk of AF for free.
More than 470,000 Australians currently live with AF, which can increase your chances of stroke, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and lung cancer. AF occurs when there’s a disturbance in the heart’s electrical system. This causes the upper chambers of the heart (atria) to beat rapidly and out of rhythm with the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles). This means the heart doesn’t work as well, and blood is not pumped properly through the body. This can weaken the heart and, over time, lead to heart failure.
While many people with AF have no symptoms, others may experience a racing heart, thumping or butterfly sensations in the heart and chest, chest pain or discomfort, fatigue, tiredness, loss of breath or dizziness.
Hearts4Heart CEO Tanya Hall, an AF patient herself, said the new app is a great way for people at home to go for a check-up, especially if they’ve put off testing due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.