Thirty residents over age 65 had heart screenings during the launch of the Cayman Islands Atrial Fibrillation for Elderly stroke prevention study at Health City Cayman Islands on Monday.
Headed by Dr. Irka Ebanks, the 10-minute noninvasive screening is powered by an iPhone application that reads pulse vibrations.
“We will be screening for atrial fibrillation, otherwise known as arrhythmia, which is an abnormality of the rate or rhythm of the heart. It can beat too fast, too slow or in an irregular fashion,” said Dr. Ebanks.
“It is extremely important to screen people because in many people, Afib does not cause obvious warning signs. Often people don’t realize they have Afib, but the condition needs to be diagnosed because it can lead to a stroke,” she added.
When symptoms do occur, they often include palpitations, chest pain/tightness, dizziness, breathlessness, fatigue or lack of energy, Dr. Ebanks said.
Health City is aiming to test 3,000 people in Cayman to assess and help address their risk of stroke, as well as collect enough clinical data for a medical study on the subject of atrial fibrillation.
According to hospital officials, the medical study is the first of its kind in the Cayman Islands and in the Caribbean.
Statistics from 2010 estimated that 33.5 million men and 12.6 million women had atrial fibrillation.
Major risk factors for developing Afib include; if a person is aged over 65, if they suffer from high blood pressure, if they have coronary artery disease, heart failure, valvular heart disease or congenital heart disease. Other risk factors include if a person suffers from sleep apnea, hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone), obesity or diabetes. In addition, if they suffer from lung disease, have a family history of Afib or have a history of smoking and alcohol abuse, then they are more likely to suffer from Afib.
The hospital is urging all people over 65 to be tested.
Further screenings will be held. For more information, call 945-4040 or visit healthcity.ky.