Does anyone have AF episodes with a heart rate less than 120 bpm?

With my current recurrence of AF, my heart rate hasn't got above 120 as it is controlled by Bisoprolol. Mostly it's in the 80s or 90s. I kept a BP and pulse diary for a couple of weeks. At the beginning, I was still getting pulses in the 50s and 60s and my consultant said I couldn't be getting AF at that level. Still trying to work out what the triggers are for me (probably stress) but does anyone else suffer with AF at relatively low heart rate levels?

Also, I am able to exercise quite well and reach a pulse rate of 130+, which my consultant was happy about, and it returns to normal without triggering AF.

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  • My own experience of permanent AF (thats 24/7) for 14 years, is not like that at all. I take bisoprolol at 2.5mgs/day, my HR is always around 70-75 bpm but the AF is always there, never stops at all. SO yes you can be in AF with a HR of a lot less than 120bpm.

  • Thanks for this. Rate/rhythm is something I'd struggled to understand. I'm on 10 mg Bisoprolol. Not currently on anything for the rhythm. Was on Amiodarone for about 7 years until a year ago but would prefer to try something else if cardio thinks necessary.

  • Very surprised to hear you were on Amiodarone for 7 years. This drug is a very harmful and should be used absolutely max. for 2 years. It's the worse stuff I've ever been on for my AF. Whilst it's the most effective drug for controlling AF it's also just about the most dangerous for other parts of your body; skin,eyes, thyroid etc. It soaks every cell in your body. Anyone who goes on it should have frequent blood tests and ensure they are not kept on it long term.

  • Hi mrspat, I don't understand what your consultant is talking about, I have paroximal af and my heart rate is normally 58 sometimes 48 bpm , and drops to high 30's through night. Mine lasts for a couple of seconds several times a day .my consultant could bring my a/f on very easily.

  • I gave my consultant a diary of my BP and pulse readings, first thing in the morning over 2 weeks. On the morning of the clinic appointment my pulse was 68 with a BP of 117/74. By the time I got to clinic about 5 hours later I was 170/95 with a pulse of 115 and AF. Next morning I was back to 129/72 pulse 76. She was trying to establish how long I had been in AF or whether I had been having episodes and she said that a pulse of 68 suggested that I was not in AF on the morning of my appointment.

    In the 2 weeks leading up to the appointment my pulse got no higher than 88. I've only experienced a faster heart rate with AF before, probably because I'm now on Bisoprolol and didn't connect the palpitations I was having to AF. I put it down to nervousness, to which I'm prone. Before 2 weeks ago my pulse was around 50, sometimes less.

    Over the last few days, I've had recurrent episodes, lasting anything from a few minutes to a couple of hours and my heart rate hasn't exceeded 120 but nor has it gone below 70. When I lie down I seem to feel it more but it seems to subside and doesn't wake me.

  • I am also on 10mg Bisoprolol . My bp is approx 120/70 with Rate of 55-60 when I am sat quietly in my chair. During an episode of AF the rate will go to 80ish.

    I have been on Bisoprolol for about 6 months. The tiredness has gone but I am now severely troubled by breathlessness. I read the leaflet which comes in the box with the tablets last night. It does not mention breathlessness but many complain about it on this forum.

    I am due to see the EP in 4 weeks. I am unsure about moaning to my GP before then.

  • I seem to have been really lucky with Bisoprolol as I seem to have more energy than I did. Much of that is of course due to the fact that I got a new aortic valve 20 months ago. Some times it's difficult, especially when you are on several drugs as many people are, to know what is causing a particular symptom. Currently I'm blaming my recurrence of AF on my thyroid medication but I'm awaiting the result of a blood test to see if this needs adjusting.

  • As I understand it is not nessesary to have high pulse rate or blood pressure during AF

    Mine was just like yous, always pulse around 60 and normal pressure , may drop down during AF.

    Thank god I'm not having any Atrial Flutter episoids since my first ablation 8 months back


  • Hi Mrspat

    I have AF 24/7 for nearly 6 years now. Until recently on bisoprolol (now stopped it). Kept a diary of blood pressure and heart rate for a fortnight. Blood pressure on average 120/66 with pulse (erratic) around 75 to 85 bpm. I have never experienced the high pulse rates due to AF that unfortunately some of our fellow forum members experience. Hope this info helps you.

  • Thank you all so much. While I have been keeping my BP and pulse diary, I have noted that when my pulse is in the 50s and 60s the BP is slightly higher than when the pulse rate is in the 80s so what you are saying makes sense to me.

    A few more questions:

    I'm awaiting a medication plan from my cardiologist but she mentioned Digoxin, which I haven't had before. Anyone with experience of of this? I was on Amiodarone for several years but I'd prefer not to go back on to it as it gave me hair loss, corneal deposits, and messed my thyroid up.

    Also, any suggestions for coping with the "bumping"? My AF symptoms are mostly a bumping in the bottom of my rib cage and diaphragm and sometimes a jolting of the shoulders - not in my upper chest. Occasionally I feel a beat elsewhere - such as my bottom! or a tingling in my face.

    Thanks again. This is completely different from when I had episodes of fast AF as it is irritating rather than making me feel ill.

  • Hi Mrspat, I am on Digoxin (1 per day) and before I took them I never had nightmares. I use to take the tablet around 11.00pm but had awful nightmares, so have gradually brought the time back to 8.00pm or earlier. Only 1 0r 2 minor nightmares since !! Lenana

  • Digoxin slows the pulse even more and NICE suggests it is only used if you have a sedentary life style. When I was nursing many years ago we always had to take the pulse of patients on digoxin and if it was below 60 not give that dose.

    I have been on digoxin but only after I had a pacemaker fitted.


  • I am exactly the same as 'gerryatriq'

  • Not sure I have the same problem as Mrspat as my AF is constant,with no apparent symptoms but my pulse rate varies between 52 and 60. This is about the same as it was before my AF but I was taking cadestartan (?) for high blood pressure which I have had for many years. Best wishes, Lenana

  • I've been in AF with pulse rate in the 40s. Not much fun!

  • I always have done. I generally get a high rate of say 90 bpm for half an hour or so then my rate drops but my rhythm is then very erratic. It may be flecainide that slows it down but it can take ages to get back to normal. My resting heart rate is generally in mid 50's since AF diagnosed.

  • yes.. My pulse is never over 110 and often right around 100 and I am still in AF continually and about non stop for the past 3 weeks...

  • Yes, I have had AF at those heart rates, if you define AF to be an irregular heart beat. My resting HR is around 50/60 (controlled by metoprolol) and when in AFib and exercising my heart rate would increase very rapidly and hit 190 quite easily. The arrhythmia has lasted anything from 24 hours to 3 weeks (at which point I had a CV). I know my heart is out of sinus due to feeling tired and 'out of sorts' but otherwise it feels normal. My EP refers to the condition as AFib but perhaps people have different definitions. Hope this helps.

  • Yes. Since my A.F. has returned post First ablation and failure of flecanide to work, my A.F. is usually at a rate of about 80-95 b.p.m. I guess that is bisoprolol at work. In fact it has ocurred to me that if all procedures fail, I could cope with this if I had to. X

  • HR always 120 - 140 with afib when Flec kicks in drops to 55 in 5 seconds like putting the brakes on in a car.

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