MANY Irish adults could regularly conduct a number of simple checks on themselves to detect a very common heart rhythm disorder, according to the Irish Heart Foundation.
Having Atrial Fibrillation means that you are five times more likely to be at risk of a stroke.
However, a number of simple checks can help people to detect if they are a sufferer.
More than 40,000 people over the age of 50 in Ireland suffer from Atrial Fibrillation.
The foundation points out that the vast majority of suffers are unaware that they have it and that just 26pc of the population have heard of it.
Medical director of the Irish Heart Foundation and consultant cardiologist Dr Angie Brown said the condition is not life-threatening but can lead to serious problems if undetected.
"It is a serious condition and can lead to serious complications such as stroke and other heart problems. By knowing how to take your own pulse or by having it regularly checked, you can detect the condition," she said.
As a result, the Irish Heart Foundation is making people aware of how to check their pulse and to contact their doctor if the detect and abnormalities.
"The recommended normal heart rate is between 60 and 100 heartbeats per minute but some people can have heart rates over 100," said Dr Brown.
"You should see your doctor if you have a persistent heart rate above 120 beats per minute or below 40 beats per minute," she added.
"Atrial Fibrillation is a very common cause of disabling stroke in Ireland and by raising awareness of a condition that affects tens of thousands of people in Ireland, and the need for checking your heart rate; we can prevent more strokes and ultimately save lives."
The causes of Atrial Fibrillation are not always clear but the chance of developing it can go up if a person has one or more medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.
It can affect adults of any age, however it is more common as people get older.
According to the foundation, about 10,000 people suffer strokes in Ireland annually and around 2,000 die as a result. Atrial Fibrillation is a major factor in one third of strokes.
The average stroke destroys two million brain cells every minute and it can result in death or disability if people don't react.
Managing director Pfizer Healthcare Ireland Paul Reid urged people to think about the condition of their heart but reminded people that it can be easily treated.
"AF is a serious heart rhythm disorder but the good news is that it can be managed effectively once diagnosed," he said.
Now, pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb are launching a campaign of national radio adverts to make people more aware of Atrial Fibrillation.
They are also keen to remind people of the FAST acronym - Face, Arms, Speech, Time to call 999 - which alerts people about the signs of stroke and what to do.