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AF Association
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Severe AF

My husband has been in hospital with persistent AF. His heart goes from 60 to 170. He has no other symptoms. He was admitted to hospital two weeks ago because he couldn't breathe. When he arrived he started vomiting. They were unable to make much headway even with rest and medication and talked about shocking his heart. Unfortunately, they found a clot in his heart and he is now on Apixaban with an appointment to see them at the end of the month. They then sent him home.

He's almost 60 and says he can't feel his heart at all and has no other symptoms.

Basically, I am very concerned, I know he's in a dangerous situation but I need to know what to expect. Basically, do people survive this severity of AF?

Thanks in advance.

12 Replies

When you say severity what do you mean? It is not unusual for HR to be 170 but it is unusual to not take some sort of medication to reduce the HR.

There are many people on this site who have persistent or permanent AF are not aware of symptoms.

It is good your husband is being anticoagulated.

Have any other medications been prescribed? Has your husband been given treatment options by an EP (Electrophysiologist)? EPs are the electricians of the heart whereas cardiologists tend to be general and/or specialize in vascular (the plumbing) bits of the heart.

It can all be a bit overwhelming and very concerning at first but be assured that there are many of us who live well and active lives with AF.

My advice would be to go onto the AFA website and download all their leaflets and join and ask for their AF Care Package. If you are very concerned about anything in particular, ring them and talk to them, they are great, very helpful and reassuring,

And you can always post here, there is always someon around, welcome by the way!

Very best wishes

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Unlike Dad's Army, We are not all doomed! There is no indication that AF shortens life if there are no other health conditions BUT due to the possibility of clots forming in the heart we are five times more likely to have a stroke. It is for this reason that anti=coagulation is so important and thank goodness your husband is on such a drug so you can relax on that front.

I agree with C Dreamer that you need to educate yourself about this very common condition (over 1 million people in UK according to most estimates) and rest assured this is not serious in the way you imagine. Knowledge is power so please get reading . FYI I was highly symptomatic but still took ten years to be diagnosed which was in 2004 aged 59, Now nearly seventy I'm still alive and kicking although not quite as hard as I used to ! LOl



Bob. Many congratulations on your award. Very well deserved. Bebe.


He's on Digoxin 62.5, Spironolactone 25mg, Bisoprolol 10mg and Apixaban 5mg.

Basically, the beta blockers don't seem to be able to bring down his heart rate. The only thing that does is sitting in a chair all day and doing nothing. Then it calms down.

Thank you for your reassurance, though. In all honesty, I've been half expecting him to keel over any minute.


I thought it was 'severe' because of his high heart rate and because the beta blockers don't seem to be working. In hospital they wanted to get it down below 100 and it never happened.



Whenever I have had fast AF (heart rate anywhere between 150-210) I have been treated as though it was severe and an emergency, by paramedics, A&E and admitted to CCU, and the hospital have always wanted to get heart rate down as soon as possible (seem happy with 100 or below) even though might still be in AF or drugs used convert it to a flutter. So I understand why you have been led to feel this way as this has also been my experience.

Over a period of 10 months with worsening symptoms (and 4 admissions later) I have learnt how to (mostly) stay out of hospital As everyone's AF is different this needs to be something that both your husband, you and the doctors treating all aspects of the condition (cardiologist and EP) are happy with. You will not get there overnight so it is useful to press your doctors for advice on when to refer back to A&E, hospital or GP, read up as much as possible and read other people's 'living with it' experience.

They had to try a lot of different drugs for me but the end a beta blocker Metoprolol did get it down to under 100 although I was left in a flutter and I only take this when in a fast AF episode not daily.

Currently I am on Propafenone daily to try and keep in sinus rhythm but when I go into an episode of fast AF I try the Metoprolol before going to the hospital and unless I feel very unwell can leave it up to 12 hours to take effect and bring it down (I would have struggled to stay out of hospital otherwise). This only comes from my experience, my cardiologist did recommend that I present with every episode of fast AF that didn't resolve itself after a couple of hours. Both my cardiologist and EP are happy with this approach until I go for my ablation (a procedure to try and restore rhythm) and hopefully stop the fast AF and medication.

One thing I have found helpful is resting, when I am in an episode (fast AF - I don't know how you'd be aware of the others) I don't stress my heart further by carrying on, this does help me in the long run.

Like Bob I had symptoms for years left untreated due to not being properly diagnosed and lived with that. My aunty was diagnosed at 46 and is now in her late 60s. Prognosis is good, getting symptoms that curtail your life under control, managing the stroke risk and adapting your life so you still enjoy living it is essential in my book.

I hope that your husband feels better soon and that you get the help you need from medical staff with managing his condition, you might have to work at this and ask lots of questions so I'm glad he has you by his side.



Hi Davesgirl, I had severe AF a decade ago (mid-fifties) and ended up in a coronary ward for 8 days. I can't remember my heart rate but it was up and down like a yoyo, and my ECG was chaotic. Beta-blockers did not work on me either. They put me onto rhythm control drugs instead. After a couple of different types they found one that worked great. The AF stopped totally. A couple of years later I had an ablation so I could get off the drugs, which although working almost 100%, gave me a lousy memory. The ablation worked well and no drugs after that, except anti-coagulants.

Like the others have said, in hindsight I now realise I had the condition for probably 10 years before diagnosis.

Good advice above, great to have this forum. Hope you get it sorted soon.




Thank you so much for your replies. I'm very appreciative. It's been a very worrying two weeks for both of us, so I feel somewhat relieved now.


My heart rate goes up to 170 when I'm in AF so it's not too uncommon, I know it seems scary and worrisome at first but hopefully the drugs will do some good. I hope he feels better soon - once he's read up about the condition it should help a lot. I just rest up or potter (I work from home) when my heart's being aggravating...



Hi Davesgirl

I have had AF for about 5 years and had this 3 times, I have this now and am taking Digoxin (to slow the heart down) and Warfarin (to thin the blood out, so as not to cause clots) . However, please ask your partner to speak with his GP or Consultant about this and if your worried ask what can be done for him. The symptoms are usually the same for most people with AF, some people suffer all the symptoms and others just a few. My heart rate when I was admitted to hospital this last time was 178 and they had to get it down, I was put on a Telemetry for about 5 days and had 3 really bad episodes of AF. They gave me Warfarin and Digoxin as I cannot take Beta Blockers due to my asthma. At the moment I am waiting for a Cardio-version again, but not sure how often they can keep doing this (but I will ask). I am 64 and a young and active 64, so you can imagine how debilitating I feel with all this, I am exhausted. The AF was all caused by someone bullying me or trying to! It can also be brought on from an infection and other things. The bullying was on a daily basis for 2 years with my manager, but I am very strong and I kept it and dealt with it, within myself, yes I wish him all the most horrific things that you can imagine be done to him, for doing this to me continually for 2 years it was like a game with him, he should have been removed and I had done absolutely nothing wrong, I followed all procedures and everything else. He will get his just deserts one day. However, all this has made me really ill, one of the symptoms of AF is vomiting because if you can understand:- when you personally walk from the lounge to the kitchen your heart rate is normal, however when someone who has AF walks from the lounge to the kitchen its like running a marathon. Regarding the clot that was found in the heart, this could be part of the problem, but I don't know, so you will need to speak with your GP or Consultant about it. Get him to explain what it is and what can be done about it. I am an AF survivor so Yes you can survive. Good Luck seeing your Consultant but if you husband feels his chest is hurting to badly and he is to uncomfortable, then get him into A&E. I am sure the Consultant will answer any questions you have, just don't be frightened to ask him. For your peace of mind.


Hi Davesgirl,

This is bound to be very worrying for you. A heart rate of 170 is quite common for Af . Mine often went ( & still does) over 245 bpm. Do go to the AF website & get the Af Care Package as advised by CDreamer -- you will find this so helpful.




Thank you dland and and Yarsura. His AF has arisen because of the effects of sexual abuse as a child, and which has constantly been in the news of late. Having been required to remember what happened and make police statements has caused him immense stress, and I'm certain this has been the cause of his AF.

I really feel very relieved to read your replies. Thank you so much.


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