Home / Blog / Warning signs of abnormal heartbeat as millions ignore deadly symptoms

Warning signs of abnormal heartbeat as millions ignore deadly symptoms

Nov 04, 2023Nov 04, 2023

Hundreds of thousands of Brits overlook the worrying warning signs of heart arrhythmia, which could have devastating consequences. For World Heart Rhythm Week, experts are urging people to familiarise themselves with the symptoms

Many of us have such busy lives we don't find time to check in with our own health. Sometimes we might overlook signs on our body that we aren't okay – but this can have devastating consequences.

As it's World Heart Rhythm Week, Brits are being urged to be on the lookout for key warning signs of an abnormal heartbeat. It might sound obvious, but according to the British Heart Foundation (BHF), at least 270,000 people in the UK are unaware they have the condition.

It's believed that around 3 million Brits have an abnormal heart rhythm, or arrhythmia, and many aren't even aware. If the symptoms are caught early, they can be treated. From palpitations to fainting and feeling breathless, it's vital to get any possible symptoms of arrhythmia checked.

The most obvious sign of arrhythmia is atrial fibrillation (AF), which causes an irregular and often unusually fast heartbeat. Those who suffer from this are five-times higher risk of having a potentially fatal or life-changing stroke.

BHF medical director, Professor Sir Nilesh Samani said: "What remains troubling is the sheer number of people who are undiagnosed and unaware that they are living with a heightened risk of stroke.

Trudie Lobban, founder of the Arrhythmia Alliance – a coalition of patients, healthcare professionals and policymakers, added: "Heart rhythm disorders are a leading cause of sudden cardiac death and devastating strokes, and yet too few people are aware of the rhythm of their heart."

Other key warning signs to look out for, according to Dr Anthony Chow, a consultant cardiologist at The Wellington Hospital, part of HCA Healthcare UK, are palpitations (a thumping or fluttering sensation in your heart/chest), dizzy spells and feeling faint, breathlessness, chest discomfort, and feeling overly tired."

It's important to stress that things don't automatically mean you have a heart problem, but it's important to call your GP to get these checked out.

Dr Chow added: "Not everyone experiences these exact symptoms and, in some cases, patients can experience no symptoms at all."

If you have previous history of health problems and/or are becoming increasingly concerned about palpitations, you should speak to a doctor.

Dr Chow added: "It's not usual that we're aware of our heart beating, unless there's a disturbed rhythm. You should speak to your doctor if your heart palpations are lasting a long time, or aren't improving and seem to be getting worse.

"Acute instances of symptoms could be a warning sign of something more serious, so it's important to seek medical advice if you're concerned. In some cases, arrhythmia could be an indication of a medical emergency such as a heart attack."

Do you have a story to share? Email us at [email protected]

Get email updates with the day's biggest stories