Some people with atrial fibrillation feel like their heart is fluttering, racing or skipping beats. Others feel nauseated, weak or like they’re gasping for air. But many people with atrial fibrillation feel nothing at all.
“Usually atrial fibrillation, also known as AFib or AF, is monitored by your family doctor. But it’s not always done on a routine basis, and AF is often discovered by accident or when a patient develops symptoms or complications,” says William Poggemiller, pharmacist and managing partner of Rimbey Value Drug Mart. “People with AF have an increased risk of blood clots, heart attacks and strokes, so better screening of AF can help save lives.”
That’s why William is participating in a study that brings simple, free atrial fibrillation screening at no charge to pharmacies like Rimbey Value Drug Mart. The study, sponsored by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, the Canadian Stroke Prevention Intervention Network (C-SPIN) and the University of Alberta Hospital Foundation, hopes to improve screening and treatment for atrial fibrillation, by bringing simple electrocardiogram tests into local pharmacies.
“Pharmacists in Alberta already treat many minor ailments, order lab work and help monitor chronic illnesses. I believe adding this screening for atrial fibrillation to our skillset is going to have a huge positive impact on our patients,” William says.
Accessible screening with assessments in Rimbey
Rimbey Value Drug Mart will be using the AliveCor Kardiamobile device, and the program will start with a focus on patients over age 65.
“We may open it up to other age groups down the road, but people 65 and older are at a higher risk of stroke or heart attack if they have AF,” William says.
The program will also be useful for patients who already have an atrial fibrillation diagnosis, as the pharmacists will recheck that the patients’ treatment plan is still appropriate.
“Patients with atrial fibrillation often take blood thinners to reduce the risk of stroke, and we will assess to see if blood thinner is the recommended choice and if their current dose is too high or too low. Your body changes over time, so the dose of blood thinner you were prescribed ten years ago may no longer be appropriate. The pharmacy checks for all new prescriptions that the dose is effective and safe, but it’s always good to double check.”
Rimbey Value Drug Mart will work closely with the study’s cardiologist, Dr. Roopinder Sandhu, and any patients who show signs of atrial fibrillation will be sent for an ECG, lab work and other follow up to ensure a thorough diagnosis. The program is open to anyone aged 65 or older, though testing will only take place by appointment.
To find out if you can participate, contact Rimbey Value Drug Mart at 403-843-2020, or visit Rimbey Value Drug Mart at 4917-50 Ave.