AF Association
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AF & heart rate.

My understanding is that during episodes of AF the heart rate commonly beats at an elevated rate (sometimes as high as 300bpm). One day last month I wore a blood pressure monitor that read my BP every 15 minutes. Despite numerous AF episodes during that 24 hour period my heart rate never topped 85bpm. Is this due to the beta blocker (Sotalol) or something else that I may be not aware of?

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Hi Gary, I've no medical knowledge but have always wondered about this. I was taken to A&E a few months back and put on one of their big machines, so I thought I'd get some sense out of it. The machine said my pulse was 72'ish, but my "heart rate" was going up and down, sometimes in seconds, from around 70/80 up to 160, maybe higher. As far as I know, the heart rate was an almost immediate reading, whether the pulse was an average over a minute or 15 seconds (don't know). Anyhow, as my "heart rate" never went down as low as 72, how can the average (pulse) have been 72 ? It was like that for hours.

My conclusion was that I don't think even their big machine could cope with AF, so maybe the reading of 300bpm is just wrong? And I don't know what constitutes a heart beat and when the machine decides to count it or not. I asked an EP this when discussing sports heart monitors giving incorrect readings, and he said that's because they can't tell what's a real beat and what isn't, so it counts things that aren't beats and gives you false readings. He said use a stethascope if you want to hear what's going on.

That's no help at all I'm sure but just find it interesting.

Koll

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Sorry to say so Koll but the reading of 300 is not wrong. The manager of my local cafe, his reading was 340 SVT. Wish you all well.

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Thanks Koll seems like you & I have similar questions about AF. I am looking to buy a continuous heart rate monitor (probably a watch) to use whilst I am out on my road bike & in the gymm. Somehow I don't think a stethoscope is going to "cut the mustard".

One day I will get this question answered in a way that makes sense to me.

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I've got 2 Gary which I've worn at the same time to see what they do by comparison.

They give the same reading till I get hit by arrhythmia. The Pulsar chest strap monitor works well but just goes to a high false reading when in AF, and also a Mio Alpha wrist-only (and more expensive!) monitor, which works better but can't remember what it does when in AF. But again, I remember it couldn't tell a proper heart beat from an AF fibrillation but didn't give the high readings that came from the Pulsar. I emailed Pulsar about it and they said the readings were immediate with no averaging.

Koll

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BP monitors are notoriously incapable of reading heart rate whilst in AF.. Having said that you can have slow AF as well as fast AF so no guarantee what it was.

Bob

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My doctor always says his stethoscope is far superior to the ordinary desk heart monitor, mind you he'd have me stand on my head to try and get my BP down ! Terjo

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Gary,

when I had Af I wore a sports heart monitor watch, it was only a basic model

polar.com/uk-en

this was a visual confirmation that I was in Afib, ,not that I really needed it, the readings were erratic anything from 70- 220, if I layed down in bed for a while the reading would fall, but still erratic and rage on for some 24 hours until normal rhythm returned, medications I took made no difference at all, I was at the mercy of Af and just had to wait it out, as for your BP reading 85, I’ve used a BP monitor when in Af, and the readings was erratic, not constant, Af comes in degrees of serveritys and lengths of episodes too.

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Thanks, I've been looking at watches also as I am a little concerned about the potential for a bluetooth chest strap to interfere with my pacemaker.

My home BP machine won't give a reading at all when I am In AF.

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I have Bradycardia and AF, I have found what I think is a very good heart rate monitor. It is an app for a smart phone and the Heart Association website has a link for one for iphones. Mine is free and is called Heart Beat Rate and can be downloaded from Google Play I think. As I can feel the beat in my finger while it is over the camera on my phone and it matches the audible and graph on the phone it gives me an accurate picture of what is going on, it has also picked up my ectopics. You can program it with age and gender you can also choose whether you are resting or training. Have not been in any fit state during my AF attacks to use it. The reviews of it are excellent.

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Hi, I downloaded the Heart Beat Rate app for my phone. It's quite good & I have tried it out after a long bike ride & a gym session. The problem is I can't get a reading immediately after strenuous exercise but have to wait for maybe one or two minutes & then things are settling back fown to "normal".

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Hi I've tried it but it doesn't work particularly well with me. It will show a reading some of the time but when it gets to the end it states "measurement failed". I use "Cardiograph", also available as a free app and that seems to cope much better with my dodgy heart rate! Thanks anyway.

George

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I happened to see my Doc during an AF episode, my pulse was only 80 - 90 ish, but the ECG said 115, (Bisoprolol keeping it from racing away) the Doc said that when in AF heartbeats may not be felt on the brachial (wrist) pulse, so just because it doesn't feel fast, it still could be. We keep being told the heart is a very resilient organ and can cope with "high revs" and irregular beating, without any damage, so a very fast heartbeat isn't really that dangerous, even though it may feel like it is. Still needs bringing down, but you're not going to die right away..., and we're talking days, or weeks even, not hours. Be well - Bill

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Hi

When you are on an ECG machine, every electrical impulse is recorded, so when in AF your atria or upper chambers of your heart are beating away like mad and this is the 300 or whatever reading you get. However not all these beats are carried through to the ventricles and it is this beat that you feel for your pulse,so this is why you get the different readings. If they are both the same you are unlikely to be in AF. Hope that helps a bit .

Eileen

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