Worried about mum- Heart attack, AF, heart block

Hello, I wonder if anyone can give me any insight or reassurance.

My mum is 54 and up until June 2014 was really fit and well (gym 5x a week, healthy weight and diet, non smoker.) In June I was with her as she suffered a sudden heart attack (which was absolutely terrifying and I often get flashbacks) the Drs described the heart damage (to her left atria) as modest, her arteries were determined to be healthy and no stenting was necessary. She has since been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation which she can be quite symptomatic with and also occasional first degree heart block.

She is waiting to hear whether she is indicated for ablation surgery or perhaps a pacemaker. She currently takes a myriad of drugs and gets a few side effects from them.

She generally feels well but has days where she is quite fatigued (perhaps 5 days a month.)

Basically this whole thing worries me sick and dominates most of my waking thoughts, I have experienced panic attacks and nightmares and feel so worried that she won't be around to see me have children or will continually deteriorate into heart failure.

I don't really know what I'm looking for on this site… perhaps some shared stories or reassurance, I don't know anyone else living with heart disease and used to think that a heart attack always preceded a decline into heart failure and death :(

Thank you in advance <3

8 Replies

  • Really sorry to hear things feel bad, hollyheart. I think AF is something that seems much worse when we first encounter it and as time goes by we gain experience and have a bit more confidence every time it strikes and doesn't do anything too dire. Sounds like you were plunged in at the deep end, though, with your Mum's heart attack. I do hope you'll find your fears will subside and things will stabilise.

  • Hello Holly and so sorry that you are suffering in what must be difficult times for you. Firstly atrial fibrillation is not a heart attack so I wonder if what she had was definitely a heart attack or maybe a bad attack of AF which can often be confused when it happens the first time. Many people think that they are dying the first time it happens. I know I did and that was ten years ago. I'm still here! The good news is that AF is seldom fatal although as one wag of a specialist once said it does feel like it ! Many of the drugs used to control it can make people feel almost worse than the condition and tiredness is a classic symptom of both AF and many of the drugs.

    I'm not going to insult you by saying don't worry as this is impossible but what I would say is that you need to read all you can about AF so that it is not a mystery and you will find that it becomes less of a threat as you understand it. AF Association main website has a number of very well written and readable fact sheets on drugs, ablation, treatment, anticoagulation etc all the things you need to know so go check it out as knowledge is power.

    I am not medically trained so really can't comment about what may or may not happen to your mother now or in the future but I can assure you that life goes on with AF and it can be managed very well. Ablation may relieve the symptoms and provide a huge improvement in quality of life as it has for me. Many people have pacemakers these days and manage quite happily so IF either of these courses of action are suggested then don't worry if it improves things for your mother.

    Ask any specific question about AF and I am sure others will be able to help with their own experiences which may well help you to understand this mongrel condition.


  • Thank you both for your reassuring replies, since writing my post I have read a few members posts which have opened my eyes to other peoples' experiences with AF.

    Unfortunately she definitely had a heart attack in June followed by a 10 day stay in hospital so the heart damage from that complicates things somewhat.

    I will be certain to read some of the fact sheets, thank you :)

  • I would just add, is she on an anticoagulant (warfarin or other) and get referred to an electro physiologist for the AF.

    I was diagnosed two years ago and it is a scary time. However as you learn more it gets more manageable. I had an ablation and this has really helped me. So try not to panic and remember knowledge is power! Good luck to you both.

  • I'm sorry to hear of your experience, it must have been very frightening but at least her heart is getting a clean bill of health now and the experts are on the case, which is comforting to know. AF in itself feels worse than it is, if you know what I mean (Bob expressed it better!). Reading up about it will help - like lallym I am hoping your mother is on warfarin or one of the new anti-coagulants, because that's important. What drugs is she on? Some of them make you colossally tired...

    Take care,


  • I am 57 and have had both paroxysmal atrial ffibrillation and a heart attack in the past two years. It really is a worry but as of now I am completely recovered from both thanks to an ablation and a couple of stents .. I was and am a fit healthy nondrinking or smoking individual . It can take a little time but it does get better.

  • So sorry to hear of your mums heart attack. As others here have said read up all you can on AF, there's huge amounts of info and it helps to understand all about the condition.

    It's very hard not to worry so it may help to see your own GP who will hopefully help you to understand about the condition and maybe able to put your mind at rest.

    Take care sweetheart.


  • I too have the palpatations. found I was super low on potassium. So nowI take a Dr prescribed dose plus eat more potassium rich foods. less palpatations and shortness of breath

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