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New help for Kiwis with common heart condition

New help for Kiwis with common heart condition

A new website has been launched by the Heart Foundation to help the estimated 46,000 New Zealanders living with Atrial Fibrillation (AF), one of New Zealand’s fastest growing forms of heart disease.

AF is a type of irregular heart rhythm that causes poor blood flow to the body. It currently affects about four in every 100 Kiwis aged over 65.

To support people with AF, the Heart Foundation has developed a website, www.heartfoundation.org.nz/atrial-fibrillation, which is believed to be a New Zealand first. The site aims to answer common questions and provide advice for managing the condition on a daily basis.

Heart Healthcare Manager Kim Arcus said the website, which took nine months to create, is designed to be the go-to place for AF patients.

“We created this site because we were constantly hearing from people with AF that they wanted to know more about the condition, and they wanted better information about how to manage it,” he says.

“For many people, the first time they and their loved ones hear about AF is at the time of diagnosis. It’s not a condition we hear talked about every day, or mentioned in the media.

“Naturally, patients and their families often have lots of questions and are worried about the impact it might have on their lives.

“This new site helps Kiwis understand what AF is, what the symptoms and triggers are, and how to overcome the challenges it presents.”

When someone has AF, the top two chambers of their heart (atria) start making extra fast and irregular electrical signals. These extra signals make the atria twitch or quiver (known as fibrillation). These signals also affect the pulse, making it irregular and sometimes fast.

Kim said that although AF is not usually life-threatening, people with the condition are five times more likely than the general population to have a stroke.

“And if they do have a stroke they are more likely to die from it or be significantly disabled. They are also more likely to have another stroke.

“Through this site, we want to help people manage their symptoms and reduce that risk of stroke.”

The website, which is part of a wider suite of HeartHelp tools (www.hearthelp.org.nz), was developed with input from a large number of people, including health professionals and New Zealanders living with AF.

ENDS

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