What does pulse in Afib feel like? - AF Association

AF Association

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What does pulse in Afib feel like?


Hi, this is one of those things that may be hard/impossible to answer in written form but I do wonder -- what does your pulse feel like when you're in Afib? I have only had one diagnosed Afib episode (after surgery) but of course trying to monitor (because it's apparently pretty rare to randomly get afib once although thrilled to hear if I'm wrong on that one). So I feel my pulse and it's like a steady, dull drumbeat. What does it feel like in afib -- colourful metaphors please!

25 Replies

Usually for me the beats are irregular both in terms of pace and strength of pulse . Sometimes it is hard to detect the pulse. It varies. It can start - usually at about 4 or 5am - with a couple of strong beats and then a gap and then a series of beats without any set pattern for a few minutes and then it settles to just being silly in a vaguely regular way. One, two.... THREE, four .... five, six, seven... EIGHT .. nine and so on. And then it returns to normal rhythm after an hour or two or much longer. Once or twice my heart has felt like it's in the tumble drier, just churning in a random way. Really annoys me, especially when it has been steady for a couple of months.

Thanks, that's a good description!


Hi Scotcitz

I realise I'm the unusual one here, but of course my pulse is in continuous A Fib, 24/7 never changes, and of course apart from that I get almost no other symptons, so realise how lucky I am.

What does it feel like?, well as I can't remember the last time I was in NSR so t's really hard to say as I am obviosuly very used to it, but what does it sound like?

I use one of those apps on my phone which pings with my pulse and it sounds like a babbling brook running over a large pebbled stream bottom, constantly finding a new path never regular but somehow comforting in it's continuing to run. Keeps my friends amused for hours.

Be well


sann in reply to Beancounter

Hi there Beancounter,I've never heard of that one,pulse which pings,that sounds different to George Micheal, giggle! have you got an iphone w ith all this? I'm very imprssed with this take care ,Sann

My AF (when not racing) can sometimes sound like Apache war drums - 'dum, dum, dum then pause and miss a beat' and dum, dum, dum then pause and miss a beat and so on.

Yes, it's a bit like a bad builder trying to hit nails... tap... tap tap... TAP... tap tap tap. Irregular in all sorts of ways!


When I was in Af, I was very symptomatic, to check I would use the wrist blood pressure machine, if I was in Af it would give me a pulse reading it would sometimes go up and down like a yo yo or say error when it became too erratic . It no longer works as I now have a PM


Interesting to read those and Jean that sounds more like ectopics to me when you have regular missed beats. . The best way to describe AF in pulse is an irregular-- irregular pulse. In other words there is no regular pattern of any kind.! Ian's sounds both the most poetic and most accurate to me--- never knew you were so poetic mate. For any engineers present I think mine when it was in AF was like an eight cylinder race engine with a miss-fire. It used to chime back in on a couple of cylinders and then drop two or three in odd orders so it was impossible to locate which cylinder wasn't working as they kept changing. Sometimes one or two sometimes four or five in a very random manner.. If you have ever driven a car doing that it feels remarkably like your body in AF.


Mine feels like baby frogs jumping about inside my chest!

I feel it goes like a free jazz jamming session ;)


When mine's having a go, it's just hard to find the pulse. All I get is the odd beat separated by gaps of nothing I can feel. I'd forgotten what a normal pulse was like till I got my new pills, now it just goes regular.


Try putting jeanjeanie's description of dum dum dum to the tune of the pink panther - that's the kind of irregularity!

I am in permanent af, and my daughter, who is a medical student is fascinated by the irregularity of it.

When I was originally diagnosed I sent through all the usual panic modes, monitored myself silly, but now settled down to background awareness.

BeancounterVolunteer in reply to kirsand

I have to say kirsand, I laughed at this, perhaps record it and release it as a single?


Wow, do you think afib brings out the poet in all of us? Thanks everyone, these are artistic and very helpful descriptions.


I would liken it to Morse code. Sandra

Bit like raindrops...'plip' being a little one, 'plop' a big, splashy one and 'perlop' a very big, splashy one that hangs for a while! In AF, therefore, I can get a plop - plop - plip-plip-plip - perlop - plop - plip-plip - perlop - plop - plop -plip-plip - perlop.........well, you get the idea!

Incidentally, there's a song, from way back, called "It's raining in my heart."

Emsysy in reply to Dadog

The Sun is out, the Sky is blue, there's not a cloud to spoil the view BUT.......

Dadog in reply to Emsysy

.........it's rainin' - doodle..doodle..dum...Rainin' in my heart!

Hidden in reply to Dadog

Sung by Russ Hamilton. ..... I still have the single!! Sandra. ( that ages us )

Like a mis-firing car or when you've attached the plug leads incorrectly !

In music terms it would relate very much to Eric Morecambe's piano playing.

There are some very interesting descriptions here, and some of them sound lovely! I feel almost disappointed to admit that I described mine to the GP as my heart missing a beat then rushing through a few more beats quickly as if to catch up! I couldn't have been too far out in my description as he knew immediately what I meant. Sounds really boring in comparison !

Hmmm, could we have a best selling hit here, The Sounds of Afib. Would be a weird thing to have on Britain's Got Talent, but you never know ...

PS Here is a website with the sounds of normal heartbeats and Afib, sorta interesting although I think the 'poetic' descriptions above were nicer. dundee.ac.uk/medther/Cardio...

............I'm playing all the right notes............not necessarily in the right order - Nice one Mycallc. Still smiling!

I’m told I have afib but I don’t feel ill at all just occasionally I’m aware of my heart beating maybe for 2/3 hours and then i suddenly can’t feel it anymore so at this moment I am feeling lucky as I’ve read that some people feel really ill

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