Ian's atrial fibrillation


Ian Chalmers was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation 15 years ago. And it was completely by chance.

He takes up the story: "I was a football referee, refereeing three to four games every week.

"Because of the refereeing I was relatively fit and I was asked, along with other referees, to take part in some research to look at how the heart rate went up during exercise.

"I went to do a treadmill test and they were monitoring my heart. They immediately stopped the test and I was admitted to hospital."

Receiving an atrial fibrillation diagnosis

Not everyone with atrial fibrillation has symptoms, so it's really important people check their pulse.

"I was devastated. It's the seriousness of having something wrong with your heart.

"When I look back there were signs that something was wrong. I collapsed in a supermarket and I once passed out as a passenger in a car.

"But I quickly recovered so it didn’t seem as if there was anything really wrong. I also experienced pain in the backs of my legs when I was running, which was only later attributed to atrial fibrillation.

"After refereeing I would be sweating really hard and I’d have some breathlessness, but I just put it down to getting older. I just thought I’d need to reduce the refereeing.

Living with atrial fibrillation

"My cardiologist was very good and always reminded me to take my pulse.

"Not everyone with atrial fibrillation has symptoms, so it's really important people check their pulse. It's so easy to do and it only takes a few minutes.

"My diagnosis happened entirely by chance - I certainly never imagined there was something wrong with my heart. I know I was really lucky – don’t leave it to chance yourself, take your pulse."

Ian now regularly takes warfarin to reduce his risk of stroke and gets his blood checked at his local clinic. He has had a pacemaker fitted and an ablation procedure.

What is a atrial fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is one of the most common forms of an abnormal heart rhythm and is a major cause of stroke. An irregular pulse could be a sign that you have an abnormal heart rhythm. AF happens when your heart's natural electrical impulses fire off from different places in the top chambers of the heart in a disorganise way.

Others living with atrial fibrillation

Ian isn't the only one successfully thriving with atrial fibrillation. Here are stories from others living with AF:

Alan's pacemaker
Philippa's AF and cardiomyopathy
John's successful ablation

Support life saving heart research

Around 950,000 people in the UK have AF and it mostly affects people aged 55 and over. BHF Professor Barbara Casadei, working at Oxford University for over 20 years, received over £1.9 million to investigate the causes of atrial fibrillation and come up with new and improved treatments for patients.

More funding into our research could lead to medical breakthroughs that help people like Ian live healthier, fuller lives. Consider making a donation to support others with atrial fibrillation.