Rugby fan urges people to be on the ball when it comes to knowing their pulse

A rugby fan from Widnes is urging people to be on the ball and “know their pulse” to prevent strokes.

Global AF Aware Week 2019 is dedicated to raising awareness of atrial fibrillation, an irregular pulse that affects millions of people worldwide and, if left untreated, can lead to stroke.

Experts say a simple pulse check can help to detect AF which can then be easily treated with anticoagulation medication to prevent strokes.

It is a subject very close to Phil Black’s heart. Exactly a year ago, the 50-year-old health and safety consultant discovered purely by accident that he had the heart rhythm disorder.

“I was fighting a heavy cold and a chest infection and was struggling to breathe so my wife and daughter begged me to get it checked out.

Phil Black

After having a cardioversion to slow his heart rate and anticoagulant therapy, Phil has his AF under control.

Rugby-mad Phil, who is an assistant ground safety officer at Halton Stadium, is now keen to spread the message that people need to be “on the ball” when it comes to checking their pulse.

The father of five has signed up to become an AF Ambassador, a group of volunteers led by the Innovation Agency, the Academic Health Science Network for the North West Coast, who are testing pulses in their communities.

"Something as simple as knowing your pulse can save your life and reduce your risk of a debilitating or life-threatening AF-related stroke – the most severe type of stroke. It only takes 30 seconds, and is so simple that people of all ages, young and old, can learn how to do it."

Dr Julia Reynolds, the Innovation Agency

It is estimated there are over 10,000 people who have the condition along the north west coast but they are either not identified or not well managed on treatment.