Know Your Pulse

The simplest way to detect heart rhythm disorders like AF is through a simple pulse check. 

Our Know Your Pulse campaign promotes routine pulse checks in GP surgeries and during flu clinics to detect AF in the most at risk groups in the community.

However, it is just as easy to Know Your Pulse and that of loved ones by yourself; checking your pulse is easy and involves four simple steps:

1) To assess your resting pulse rate in your wrist, sit down for 5 minutes beforehand. Remember that any stimulants taken before the reading will affect the rate (such as caffeine or nicotine). You will need a watch or clock with a second hand.

2) Take off your watch and hold your left or right hand out with your palm facing up and your elbow slightly bent.

3) With your other hand, place your index and middle fingers on your wrist, at the base of your thumb. Your fingers should sit between the bone on the edge of your wrist and the stringy tendon attached to your thumb (as shown in the image). You may need to move your fingers around a little to find the pulse. Keep firm pressure on your wrist with your fingers in order to feel your pulse.

4) Count for 30 seconds, and multiply by 2 to get your heart rate in beats per minute. If your heart rhythm is irregular, you should count for 1 minute and do not multiply.

Description: http://www.atrialfibrillation.org.uk/files/image/130211-Resized%20pulse%20illustration.jpg

Please watch and share this instructional Know Your Pulse video for more information:

Why is it important to Know Your Pulse?

- An irregular pulse could indicate underlying AF. Is your pulse beating like a clock?

- Atrial fibrillation (AF) causes 12,000 debilitating and fatal strokes in the UK each year, early detection is vital

- At the age of 40, we all have a 1 in 4 life-time risk of developing AF which increases the risk of stroke 500%

- There is no national programme of pulse checks or heart rhythm screening, please share information on our campaign with your GP

We have prepared resources as part of the campaign. These are available to view and download below:


Description: http://www.atrialfibrillation.org.uk/files/image/131120-KYheartrhythmapp.png

Please search "Know Your Heart Rhythm" in the Apple App Store to download our iPhone app and be more AF Aware

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Pulse check guide

View the Pulse Check Guide and learn why it is important to Know Your Pulse and how take it.

Share this with your friends to spread the message of detecting a heart rhythm disorder.

Description: http://www.atrialfibrillation.org.uk/files/image/131120-KYP%20campaign%20poster.png

A4 Know Your Pulse poster     

A message from Sir Roger Moore


The ‘Know Your Pulse’ campaign was jointly launched by AFA and Arrhythmia Alliance during Arrhythmia Awareness 2009.

The Know Your Pulse campaign raises public and medical awareness of the pulse as one of the most effective ways of identifying potential cardiac arrhythmias. To this end we are seeking Department of Health endorsement which will ensure a manual pulse check is part of a routine medical appointment.

December 8th 2010

Arrhythmia Alliance and Atrial Fibrillation Association held a Parliamentary event supporting the ‘Know Your Pulse’ campaign. Hosted by Nadhim Zahawi MP, speakers included, Simon Burns MP, Professor Roger Boyle, Department of Health, Dr Matthew Fay GP and Clinical Lead for the NHS Improvements and Mrs Trudie Lobban MBE and CEO of Arrhythmia Alliance and Atrial Fibrillation Association.

Read more

What is the point of screening with pulse checks?

  • 2007 Department of Health figures estimated there were 600,000+ diagnosed Atrial Fibrillation (AF) patients in England. Today this figure is suspected to be closer to 1 million and growing.
  • 200,000 newly diagnosed AF patients per year in the UK, and this is rising due to an aging population and increased numbers surviving conditions which predispose them to AF.
  • AF consumes 1 % of the total NHS annual budget.
  • At the age of 40, we all have a 1 in 4 life time risk of developing AF.
  • Reduction in stroke (18% of strokes being associated with AF -the most common heart rhythm disturbance)
  • Reduction in mortality among patients with other co-morbidities such as heart failure, hypertension etc.
  • Detection of previously unknown arrhythmias, enabling patients to receive timely and effective diagnosis and treatment.

You too, can play an active role in this campaign. We are asking all members to write to their own GP and the Chief Executive of your own Cardiovascular Network (list available below) to ask the following questions:

  • Have manual pulse checks been incorporated into your own 40-74 year old Health Checks or in the annual flu inoculation programme? If so, do you have any information of the number of arrhythmia patients newly identified?
  • Do you offer pulse checks as part of your routine GP service?

Evidence on the simplicity, cost-effectiveness, high impact and cost-savings of pulse checks is available from the NHS Improvement website.

Atrial Fibrillation Association (AFA) and Arrhythmia Alliance (A-A) provide Department of Health endorsed resources including Pulse Check Cards, either via the website: www.knowyourpulse.org or through contacting Patient Services: 01789 867 502 for free paper copies. The AF Association website also offers medically approved booklets, toolkits and fact sheets.

To assist you in this please download and print a sample letter.

Download Sample Letter

Download list of Local Directors of Public Health


MPs show their support for 'Know Your Pulse' campaign

Read more

Get in touch for more help and information

01789 867 502info@afa.org.uk


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