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Home » Cardiology » Why people shouldn’t be afraid to seek treatment for atrial fibrillation

Edward Cherry

Patient, who has undergone ablation procedure to treat AF

Hockey veteran Ed Cherry warns people to seek early diagnosis and treatment for any heart problems after he experienced an episode during a match while on tour in Spain.

It was during a veterans’ hockey tour in Spain, that Ed Cherry first realised he had an issue with his heart. Nearing his 50th birthday, he was fit and active but — while running around in 35-degree heat after what he describes as ‘a good night out the previous evening’ — his heart rate took off. “I felt dizzy,” he recalls. “But within minutes, these symptoms went away; but I got a fright.”

Recurring heart symptoms

Having returned home from Barcelona to Ireland, the sensation of increased heart rate symptoms started happening more frequently; often while watching TV after an evening meal with a glass of wine, he says. Even then, it took months for him to seek medical help, and only after his wife insisted.

Having cut back on his alcohol intake, he visited his GP who referred him to a specialist. “If I ever needed a wake-up call, that was it. From there, I was referred to an electrical heart specialist,” says Cherry, now 53. “Given the delay in my seeking help, I went straight to the interventional treatment.”

Via a wearable device, it was identified that he had both atrial fibrillation and an atrial flutter.

Diagnosis and treatment

Via a wearable device, it was identified that he had both atrial fibrillation and an atrial flutter. “This is important information for the consultant to improve the treatment efficacy. If only one problem is identified initially but you have both, then you will need to go back for another procedure.”

Cherry underwent catheter ablation under a general anaesthetic. Although he recalls waking up in the intensive care unit, he was back at work with his healthcare company in a matter of days. “Since the treatment, I have regained my life; I am symptom-free. Consequently, I have improved my level of exercise and reduced weight.”

Find support for your heart

Having joined Croí, a patient advocacy group for people in Ireland with cardiovascular disease and stroke, he stresses the importance of raising awareness and prompt diagnosis and treatment of heart conditions. Addressing symptomatic people sitting at home who are hesitant to seek treatment, he underlines the importance of early referral for diagnosis and treatment at a specialist centre of excellence — even if it means travelling to receive the right care.

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