Is it possible to have AF attacks while hav... - AF Association

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Is it possible to have AF attacks while having very slow heart rate and low pulse?


My normal BP is around 100/50 , I noticed that during my AF attack my BP usually around 90/60-75 where I feel really bad and look like my heart is stopping from time to time with irregular and very strong beats

Does that make any sense?

13 Replies

Maitha, you can have slow AF as well as fast. The point is not what the rate is but if the atria is writhing about rather than pulsating in a regular manner. It has been described as writhing like a bag of worms. I would avoid the word flutter if I were you since this is a different problem and is from the right rather than the left atria.

Although it is possible to pick up atrial fibrillation by taking a person's pulse it can only normally be diagnosed for sure with an ecg where the bass line is erratic with no regular highs and lows. Blood pressure does funny things in AF and may go down although strangely mine always went up!

There is another arrhythmia called ectopic beats. Ectopic in a medical sense means not in the right place or time. The pumping chamber (ventricle) may contract when there is no blood there to push round so you will feel as if that beat didn't happen. "My heart jumped a beat" is the feeling. Since the next one comes properly it does feel like the heart has missed a beat or stopped briefly. Everybody has loads of these very day but it seems only us AFers are sensitive enough to notice them and of course we start to worry about them which makes things worse. They are not harmful although they can feel quite alarming if they come in clusters. Again ecg can tell which are ectopics and which AF.

I do hope that helps.


asborne in reply to BobD

Hi, If from right atria what condition is that, surely a flutter is a flutter. Not sure about heart condition as one dr says ok yet another says medication. Awaiting results of 5day monitor.Fortunately I am not concerned yet.

BobDVolunteer in reply to asborne

Atrial fibrillation takes place in the left atria. Atrial flutter is confined to the right atria and as a result for anatomical reasons is easier to ablate. They are to distinctly different problems although one may start the other and vice versa.


Excellent post Bob, explains it really well. Did I read that some types of AF (??vagally mediated) are triggered by a slow heart rate which is why beta blockers such as bisoprolol do not always help. I may have that completely wrong though.

BobDVolunteer in reply to Bagrat

Hi Bagrat, yes you are quite right I think. I have heard specialists at conferences talk about AF starting "when the vagal tone is low." i e when the heart rate is low due to sleep etc. If beta blockers work to slow the heart rate it may well make AF more likely in those types of patient. Many people find they are woken by AF and I was one of them quite often.Strangely my brain used to play tricks on me I think. I would wake up from a panic strewn dream being chased by baddies or something to find I was in AF and reasoned that this was my brain trying to explain the frantic heart rate to my subconscious mind. AF is such a complex condition with no real common denominator from patient to patient that there is no wonder we are still scratching at the door of understanding.


Tobw in reply to Bagrat

Must admit that's what I've thought at times. My last two instances of AF have come on a Sunday morning after I had ate more than I should have done the previous day. On both occasions, I was okay when I woke up, took my bisoprolol tablet first thing as normal and then went into AF a few hours later soon after sitting or lying down - my heart rate can often drop below 50bpm after taking my beta blocker and I'm getting increasingly convinced that I'm more vulnerable to an episode when that happens.

Thanks a lot Bob

You really helped me to understand what's going on with my heart

I'm already on beta blocker which made me better for sometime

But flecainide made my condition miserable so I stopped it

When I was at hospital last time it shows no flutter but my BP was 90/35 and I feel lot of irregular beats , strong and bumping in my ears I thought it was a flutter but it was not

You are right about that we are very sensitive and watching our heart beats drive us Creasy sometime , where during working hours I feel better since I'm busy ;)

But I feel so bad at home doing nothing than monitoring my heart beats and keeping everything ready in case I went to hospital as emergency as I used to recently

I'm shy to say that but I'm scared and living day by day and can't look far

Stress is a killer I know but who can blame me in such condition

Today is one of my bad days , I have been through a lot till now , two open heart surgeries with other major surgery and I thought that was the end of my problems but it seems it is endless

Kindly accept my apologies but others can't understand my suffering like anyone of you


Tomorrow is a better day ;)

BobDVolunteer in reply to Maitha

Maitha, one of the big problems with AF is that we don't look ill! People just can't understand unless they experience it and this goes for doctors as well as friends and relatives. I was given some advice once which I pass on and that is that whilst AF may be in your life, do not let it be your whole life. This is easy to say I know but do try not to worry all the time . What will be will be and worry may actually make it worse. AF is not a killer but just a darned nuisance which can all too easily take over our lives. We AFers know how you feel and never say sorry for the way you feel. WE KNOW!


Maitha in reply to BobD

Your words made me cry , thank a lot . You are right I don't look Sick at all and nobody can imagine how much I'm suffering from inside even my family

Wish I can manage my AF as part of my life and not the whole of it as you said

I will try harder

Thanks again for understanding and support

God bless you


You are not alone in the way you feel. We all understand exactly what you are going through. On good days I wonder what I was making a fuss about and on bad days I suddenly remember. I am also quite emotional when in A.F.which doesn't help matters at all. Don't know if this is anxiety or what. I also look a picture of health so I'm sure my friends all think I'm making it up! Anyway you must never feel alone with this as everyone on here understands.

Parismay in reply to dedeottie

I had a stroke 10 weeks ago then 2 weeks later was diagnosed with AF but don't know much about it I have days when I feel like a big wave comes over me and I feel as if I am going to pass out it only last a few seconds but frightens me my heart rate drops to 40s then jumps to70s is this a AF attack have told GP but he just says it early days and keep taking tablets

I have had it seems all of the AF strains at some point or other each ablation brings me another problem and seem to ease another. I have been in extreme AF on ECG and have been unaware of it in myself. Had 60 BPM Pulse 150 heart BPM. Since my last Ablation I am having bouts of I think are sleep apnia and waking gasping for breath with a thumping heart. I do have a complete lack of energy which is compounded with my lung problems. My last 24hour monitor should a low of 39 BPM and a high of 169 BPM. My pulse is quite stable 60 BPM with new tablets 2x80mg sotalol 1x125mg digoixin but have at least 12 to 15 short wobbles a day.

I have had AFib episodes where my heart rate was not rapid.

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