MORE than 90,000 people in the West Midlands are at serious risk of suffering a stroke as a result of irregular heart rhythms.

Figures released by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) this week showed more than a million people in the UK – including 91,052 in the West Midlands – are suffering from atrial fibrillation (AK), a condition which increases the risk of a stroke by five times.

The condition, which causes an irregular, sometimes fast pulse as a result of electrical impulses controlling the heart’s natural rhythm losing coordination, causes more than 2,000 strokes a year in the West Midlands alone.

AK can be caused by high blood pressure, heart valve disease and binge drinking and sufferers often experience palpitations along with feelings of breathlessness, although some experience no symptoms at all.

If left untreated, the condition can increase the risk of a blood clot forming inside the heart chambers.

BHF chief executive Simon Gillespie said the main danger of AK was that many do not realise they have it.

“You can be going about your daily routine oblivious to the fact you’re five times more likely to have a devastating stroke,” he said.

“Checking that your pulse is regular is a simple way of seeing if you’re at risk. But only through research can we tackle this dangerous disorder and prevent its devastating consequences.”

The charity is currently running a campaign called Ramp Up the Red, encouraging people to wear red on Friday, February 7 to raise money for life-saving research.

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