Alone with AF

I have read lots of lovely posts about supportive families but would like to ask ---- is there anyone out there like me all alone. Not seeking sympathy as, although I am an 80 lady, I do keep busy and happy going out every day (puffing on my way - not ciggies just breathless) but when AF rears its ugly head - I am all alone.

The pressure comes with making a decision about AF - do I call 111 - how long do I wait to call 111 etc. I ignore the breathlessness and dizzy spells but when AF does strike - I do then feel lonesome. I am currently having a good run (hope I am not speaking too soon).

Does anyone living alone have strategies to deal with such occasions.

13 Replies

  • Although I am married, my husband travelled a lot so I was on my own a lot during episodes so I completely understand how different it is when you are on your own. I got to know over time when I needed help and when I would be OK. If I got very bad, but not bad enough to call 999 I asked a friend or a neighbour if they would mind just sitting with me for a while, until I felt better. I had syncope (fainted) with AF as my BP would go too low. I developed a support network of local people that I could call upon. In reality, I think I had 3 occasions when that happened, I wonder if you could think about who you might be able to call upon?

    I found most people were more than willing to help and I developed and deepened friendships I would never have done otherwise.

    The worst was when it happened in the night, when I would t have phoned anyone. Then I just plugged my earphones in and listened to an audio-book and usually fell asleep and woke next morning feeling much better. I am also of a mindset which believes I am mortal and am going to die sometime and if it was to be in my sleep, that would be fine by me! Just by accepting that eased my worry.

    What I am really saying is get a plan of action, know the parameters of when you will call 111, which I think is such a great service! They will go through a protocol with you and get a Doctor to call you if you are in doubt so I wouldn't hesitate to call them if you are in doubt,

    You can always post on this site also, remember there are members all over the world so no matter what time it is there may be someone around! We are not with you physically but are in cyber spirit! Very best wishes.

  • I also have PAF and live alone. The scariest thing for me was presyncope (near faint) on reverting to NSR but since I had a pacemaker fitted last March this is no longer an issue. I find that what helps me most is to keep telling myself "AF won't kill you"

  • Hi

    I also live alone, although I have got family that live relatively close by so I'm not sure what your support networks are outside the house. Meaning, do you have local family, friends or neighbours that you see or can co-opt into any planning? Things you could consider:

    1Ask your help care professionals what symptoms should mean you call 999 (passing out with episodes is definitely one) – you might have others. It’s a question I always ask.

    2Ask someone to come and sit with you if you feel you should be sitting out symptoms and are not sure.

    3Consider means of monitoring symptoms so you can either re-assure yourself that you are ok or confirm when you need to call for help. A heart rate monitor did more for me in diagnosis and knowing when it was real than any GP has ever done.

    4Have a ring in with someone at a set time, so they know you’re ok. Be sure you want this; it took a while for my family to stop calling every day to see if I was alright (and I hadn’t even asked them to!).

    5One of the pendants that link to a centre. You’ll have to look into this but I’m sure that they can have all your details and leave an open line so could arrange help for you if you were only able to do one thing – press the button.

    6If you post on this site there is a lot of help and support. Including advice on what is potentially more serious.

    I have always found it the most stressful part of the condition knowing when I should call 999 (I confess I would never call 111) because if I think I need help I need real help. You haven't got to where you are without a stoic attitude and that being a given then you shouldn't worry about calling for help when you need it. I read a piece that described how women manage. I realised I was a knowing and letting someone else take over, so scared of making a fuss as I saw my heart rate rise to 180, I called my sister first! She told me put the phone down call an ambulance and I’ll meet you at the hospital. Decide which kind of patient you are so that you can factor in your plans. Set in your mind (in conjunction with your doctors – GP, Cardiologist, EP) some parameters that you can live with and those you want to take action with. So you set a time limit or heart rate limit or symptom limit on what you’ll sit out and what you seek help with.


    oknowing and going (women acknowledged something was wrong, made a decision to seek care, and acted on their decision within a relatively short time, typically 5-15 minutes)

    oknowing and letting someone else take over (women told someone they had symptoms and were willing to go along with recommendations to seek immediate medical care)

    oknowing and going on the patient’s own terms (women wanted to remain in control, were not willing to let others make decisions for them, and openly acknowledged that they did not like to ask others for help - these are the women who drive themselves to Emergency!)

    oknowing and waiting (women decided that they needed help but delayed seeking treatment because they did not want to disturb others )

    omanaging an alternative hypothesis (women decided symptoms were due to indigestion or other non-cardiac causes, and were reluctant to call 911“in case there’s nothing wrong and I’d feel like a fool” – until their severe symptoms changed or became unbearable)

    ominimizing (women tried to ignore their symptoms or hoped the symptoms would go away, and did not recognize that their symptoms were heart-related)

    Cyber hug - we are all here, whenever you are.


  • Great Post Jo inspiring ideas and thoughts


  • What brilliant ideas and comments. I have wondered so many times how on earth people living alone manage and now I know. Such courage and practical solutions. Thank you.


  • Thank you everyone - especially the fantastic suggestions. This site is a wonderful help. There always seems to be someone there who understands. Thanks again.

  • I'm also alone, with no close family or friends to call on, so I think I feel similar to you. I'm also unclear about when I should call 000 (in Australia). The attacks are so scary and intense, and there seems to be no guildelines as to when it's serious enough to seek help. I have my own BP monitor, so a couple of times I've left it until my pulse was about 150 (normally 54 for me) before calling the ambulance.

    The last AF event last week I decided to 'wait it out' at home, and luckily it self reverted after only 3 hours. I've never gone longer than 7 hours before self reverting, and haven't ever had to be jolted back into normal sinus rhythm, so I really wonder now what a visit to the ER achieves? Except to help relieve the 'scared and lonesome' feelings of course.

    Quite recently it really hit home that I was so much more at risk of blood clots, and being alone, my main fear became that something disabling would happen, such as a stroke or heart attack and I wouldn't be found for a week. I wasn't sleeping well due to worry.

    As a result I arranged to get a daily phone call from 'Telecross' which is run by the Red Cross here in Australia. I'm not sure if it operates in other countries. It's just a brief call at an agreed time of day, and if there's no answer after several tries, they start to contact some nominated contacts such as neighbours or whatever, or if necessary, the police. There's no cost involved, and I'm now sleeping much better.

    In addition, I purchased and had fitted a key box near the front door which opens by a push button 'secret code'. Telecross can keep the details if you wish, and pass it on if required to police or ambulance officers if you're in trouble. Saves them having to damage your doors or windows by breaking in.

    I hope you can develop some strategies to suit you and remove some of the uncertainty and fear.

    Hugs from Oz. :-)

  • Good morning darling, I can empathise completely with you and think you're a very balanced lady. I'm 70 and cope alone with PAF. If I was to have a really frightening attack I would not hesitate to call an ambulance. Like you I have the everyday symptoms of dizziness and breathlessness but as long as they pass within a reasonable time I try not to get too worried. It is difficult coping with these symptoms when you're on your own but I try to live my life normally. I'm more careful when I go on holiday now and make sure I'm not a million miles away from medical assistance. I wish you well and keeping fighting the ****** xx

  • Thank you so much for your post. Its quite comforting to know that others are coping with the same thing. I too keep fairly close to home and am lucky that my hobbies (crafting in various forms) have clubs within a 3 mile radius.

  • Thank you so much for your post. Its quite comforting to know that others are coping with the same thing. I too keep fairly close to home and am lucky that my hobbies (crafting in various forms) have clubs within a 3 mile radius.

  • What a great post-very practical and ai'm sure many people are in this position and have these concerns. My situation is nor exactly the same but some of my concerns are..i have 2 young children and often feel vulnerable when I am alone with them and in AF or SVT as my husband, relatives and friends are not always contactable at work. On the ambulance issue...i have dialled 999 a number of times over the last 2 years when I have just been going so fast and been so dizzy i cannot stand up. On a couple of these occasions, the episode has self terminated by the time paramedics arrive. They have NEVER minded the fact that I rang and in fact encourage me not to hesitate ever when it is something cardiac related..even though I have an established diagnosis. Paramedics have told me that they get 999 calls from drunk people all the time, people having domestics and lots of people who have fallen and need help up .so they get a variety of calls and people in AF are far from wasting their time. I feel absolutely confident in that knowledge. Take care and it has been good to read your post and have a think about these things and see the good suggestions from others. I really like the sense of comradery on this forum:)

  • I don't ha e an answer for you, but I am alone too, it isnt just the physical side if being alone- i find the mental side terrifying.

    Bless you & i hope someone on here can help you xx

  • I don't ha e an answer for you, but I am alone too, it isnt just the physical side if being alone- i find the mental side terrifying.

    Bless you & i hope someone on here can help you xx

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