Free screenings are being held across the island this month as part of an initiative by doctors at Health City Cayman Islands to prevent strokes among the older population.
Doctors are interested in screening anyone age 65 or older to ensure that they are properly aware of their risk of having a stroke.
Information from the screenings will be used to compile the “Cayman Islands Atrial Fibrillation for Elderly (CAFE)” study, which health officials say is the first of its kind in the Cayman Islands and Caribbean.
Dr. Ravi Kishore, chief interventional cardiologist and electrophysiologist at Health City Cayman Islands, said one impetus for the study is that many people do not show any outward signs that they have a higher stroke risk.
“We will be screening for Atrial Fibrillation [Afib)], otherwise known as arrhythmia, which is an abnormality of the rate or rhythm of the heart,” he said. “It can beat too fast, too slow or in an irregular fashion. Often people don’t realize that they have Afib, but the condition needs to be diagnosed because it can lead to a stroke.”
Dr. Ravi said in 2010, an estimated 33.5 million men and 12.6 million women globally had Afib. It is hoped that the study in Cayman will help lead the region in stroke prevention.
Major risk factors for developing Afib are if the person is over age 65; has high blood pressure; and been diagnosed with coronary artery disease, heart failure, valvular heart disease or congenital heart disease.
Other risk factors include: Sleep apnea; hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone); obesity; diabetes; lung disease; family history of Afib; and/or history of smoking and alcohol abuse.
Dr. Irka Ebanks, who will be leading the research study and screenings, said when symptoms do occur, “they often include palpitations, chest pain/tightness, dizziness, breathlessness, fatigue or lack of energy.
“These symptoms do not always immediately indicate Afib, so screening people means patients themselves may be better equipped to understand the warning signs, and at the same time we will have the information we need to help diagnose the condition in a more timely manner. Speed is of the essence in such a case: the sooner a patient receives medical care following a stroke the better the prognosis.”
The screenings are non-invasive, powered by an iPhone app that reads pulse vibrations, and takes less than 10 minutes to complete.
Doctors at Health City Cayman Islands hope to more than 3,000 people will participate in the study.
For more information, call 945-4040 or visit healthcity.ky.