World Heart Rhythm Week 2020 By: Dr. A.M. KARTHIGESAN, Senior Consultant Cardiologist & Electrophysiologist


Clinical Lead, Department of Cardiac Pacing &Electrophysiology , Apollo Hospital, Greams Road, Chennai

To raise awareness and promote better understanding of heart rhythm [Pulse] disorders, annual world heart rhythm week is being held this year from June 1st to 7th.

The theme of this year world heart rhythm week is “Don’t Miss a Beat”

This theme message emphasizes the importance of pulse checks, which can decrease the number of sudden cardiac deaths and un diagnosed atrial fibrillation causing strokes each year.

Cardiac Arrhythmia, or an abnormal heartbeat, is a serious but treatable condition that affects roughly 12 million Indians. Arrhythmia’s occur when the electrical impulses in the heart, which coordinate the heartbeats don’t function properly, causing the heart to beat too fast, too slow or irregularly.

These cardiac rhythm disturbances can occur because of aging, hypertension, old heart attack and heart failure etc. Sometimes it could happen at younger age because of birth defect in cardiac electrical system or genetic disorders.

Atrial fibrillation is the most common arrhythmia which occurs in one out of four people above the age of 50 years causes irregular pulse. Early recognition and treatment is important to reduce the risk of developing lifelong disability due to stroke and also prevent repeated hospitalization due to heart failure.

Detecting these pulse variations by a simple pulse check which takes only 30 seconds but it could save your life.

Sudden cardiac death is caused by abnormal heart rhythm [should not confused with heart attack as often reported]; the heart stops beating and the person stops breathing and suddenly losses consciousness. This can occur during acute heart attack or consequence of previous heart attack or due to low heart pumping function and heart failure or due to cardiac genetic disorder.

Time is crucial if you suspect somebody is having sudden cardiac arrest event. Ambulance should be informed and Cardio Pulmonary resuscitation [CPR] should to be started immediately and ideally use an Automated External Defibrillator [AED] to restore the heart rhythm. For every minute delay in treatment victim’s survival chance reduces by 10 % and without immediate treatment 90-95% will die.

Unfortunately AED equipment is not available in public places widely in India and every non medical person is not trained in CPR which led to poor survival chance. Teaching CPR and facilitating AED equipment in public places saves many lives from sudden cardiac arrest.

Creating public awareness in heart rhythm disorders and sudden cardiac arrest will help the patient to seek appropriate treatment from the Cardiac Electrophysiologist to prevent life threatening event or disability.

Simple Pulse check and evaluating irregular pulse could save your life. Apollo Main hospital, Chennai is one of the few hospitals in India to run an exclusive Arrhythmia Clinic to evaluate and treat these heart rhythm disorder patients with state of the art technology.