Posted on Monday 16 December 2013
Paul Brown standing next to the photocopier
More than 2,000 people in Lambeth at risk of a stroke because of an irregular heart rhythm are getting the advice they need to lead a healthier lifestyle.
Specialist nurses from Guy’s and St Thomas’ are helping people with atrial fibrillation, a common condition which means the heart beats unusually fast or slow.
Local people are encouraged to get tested, diagnosed and treated because people with an irregular heartbeat are five times more likely to have a stroke than the average person.
Atrial fibrillation is often associated with heart palpitations and shortness of breath. Treatment includes blood thinning medication to reduce the risk of stroke, or fitting a pacemaker.
The new service is on offer at Gracefield Gardens Health and Social Care Centre in Streatham.
Paul Brown, 55, a print shop worker from Brixton, discovered he had an irregular heartbeat after a routine visit to his GP.
He was referred to the specialist nurses who recommended that his heart was tested and prescribed the best course of treatment and medication for him.
Paul says: "First thing in the morning I would have pins and needles in my feet and sometimes I would be short of breath. Once I started moving around it was fine but now I realise this was the first sign that I had an irregular heart rhythm.
"I was referred by my GP and saw the nurse within a week. She gave me really helpful advice about doing more exercise and eating right. She took the worry out of the situation.
"In the New Year I will be having electric shock treatment to bring the rhythm of my heart back to normal. It will mean that I can go back to doing all the things I enjoy including playing football with my nine-year-old grandson.”
Sharlene Hogan, the nurse who saw Paul, says: "The service means that local people can be seen and treated quickly closer to where they live rather than having to go to hospital for an appointment.
“We are specially trained to spot heart problems. We know what to look out for and when to refer patients for further tests. We can also prescribe medication to help resolve heart problems quickly.
"GPs find the service reassuring because our nurses, who are supported by a specialist heart consultant, look after heart patients every day.”