All that is fast with the heart in not necessarily afib

A few weeks ago I woke up to find my heart racing at 150 beats per minute. I recorded my heart rate on my blood pressure monitor ,My thoughts were very down beat at the time, I just kept on thinking about would I ever be free from afib and how long would it be before I was put back onto sotalol, and for me the dreaded side effects of feet like blocks of ice in the winter. I called my EP and his secretary booked me in to see him two weeks later. when I went to see I explained that this episode had been unlike any of the others, for a start it occurred in the morning and the feelings in my chest had been different and by the time I got to the doctors for an ECG it had passed. My episodes had always gone on for hours. He explained to me that it was unlikely that it was afib and the 150 heart rate was very significant.Although as it was not recorded he hold me there was a strong likelihood that it was atrial flutter which can be sorted out by a simple ablation . He told me that as I had had afib I had a greater risk of atrial flutters which are more common in people older than me. If I have another episode I hope to catch it on an ECG so this diagnosis can be confirmed and treated. Has anyone else experienced this

13 Replies

  • Hi Lakesad. yes just because your HR is high doesn't make it AFib. You could have SVT or atrial tachycardia . The thing to check is if your pulse is regular but high. Learn to take your own pulse and if it happens again see if it is just very fast or irregular and fast. A Flutter ( in the right atria) presents as a typical sawtooth base line on the ecg so should be easy to spot.


  • That's useful to know. I am concerned that my wife has twice in the last six weeks had to go to A&E with tachycardia in excess of 160 beats per minute. Despite being referred they have not got down to the bottom of it.

    Many thanks


  • Thanks Bob it was fast but regular. I try to take my pulse at least once a day. I will let you know if I catch an episode on an ECG. But the good news was it was unlikely to be the return of AFib and the ablation required would only be 1 line.

  • When I was in AF I also tried to use my cuff blood pressure monitor but it wouldn't register anything but an error. I wonder if that's because my rate was irregular as well as fast. Perhaps yours picked up because it was regular and could be recorded?

  • G'day fallingtopieces, you to Lakeslad,

    The morning of the day I was diagnosed with AF this is what happened with my Omron M7 Cuff/Digital BP monitor. It started off giving me a normal reading, as the day wore on it alternated between error messages and readings - and what readings I did get became lower and lower and HR was going up. I even changed batteries, no difference in the end just error messages. It was this very performance of the monitor that made me contact my GP who saw me immediately, verified what I was saying on his machine and put me in hospital immediately - thus within 9 hours of onset I had a diagnosis and treatment started. If I had not had that monitor I'd have done nothing just thinking I had a flu or some virus 'cos I could NOT feel a thing going on in my chest. Nothing. Later letters from my Cardio after 6 days of continuous tests in hospital indicated I was one of those weirdos who could at times be in AF and not know it.

    Aussie John

  • I am the same I have had ECG and have not realised I in wobble mode.

  • I'm the same as Offcut.

  • Thanks fallingtopieces I remember trying to take it whilst in AFib and like you I couldn't get a reading. Whilst in AFib and on the hospital monitor my heart was going at up to 180 beats a minute.Perhaps my monitor also struggled with the irregularity of AFib.

  • Hi Lakeslad, yes I have just experienced this. I have had A fib for 12 years but last Sunday I went to A & E with fast heartbeat (135) and then a fib. They slowed the heartbeat with Bisoprolol but didn't stop the a fib. I am still in a fib a week later, unfortunately. They told me it was atrial flutter. I have to see a cardiologist in a week. All the best and hope you get sorted.


  • Hi Brenda I was diagnosed with Paroxysmal Atrial Flutter 3 years ago. Have only had one episode of fast HR since. How can you tell if you are in AF if HR is normal? Only feelings I get now (am on Bisoprolol ) are occasional flutters lasting a few seconds and a bit lightheaded at times. Sorry to sound stupid but get confused as to how to tell when AF is happening. Thanks.

  • Loobylou you say to start with that you were diagnosed with Atrial Flutter and then ask if you can tell when you are in AF which is atrial fibrillation. AFlutter takes place in the right atria whilst AF is in the left and they are quite different animals. AF presents as an irregular heart beat which is usually fast but not always. A Flutter is not irregular just sometimes fast but does not usually present as a pulse difference as it is in the right side of the heart which pumps blood round your lungs and not in the left side which pumps round your main body. I think you can only prove A Flutter on an ecg whereas AF is easy as it is so irregular a normal pulse check will discover it. Hope that helps.


  • Excellent information Bob

    Thanks again


  • Yes, I discovered yesterday that my recent extra episodes of Afib were in fact Atrial Flutter. I have been having these for couple of weeks, every day lasting 3 - 4 hours, as well as usual Afib in the evening!! anyway this was discovered at Guys hospital yesterday, Heart rate was fast 138 - 148 but regular on ECG. So Im on list for ablation for both. Apparently about a third of people with Afib also develop Aflutter. Another reason for having the ablation, wish I had gone for it earlier when first diagnosed in 2007. The consultant has changed my Flecainide to Propafenone 150mg twice a day, starting that today hope it works, as Flecainide had stopped working, and have 14 weeks to wait.

You may also like...