Just diagnosed... In a panic

Hi everyone

I've just got back from a doctors appointment that I attended because a couple days ago when getting out of bed I blacked out for a few seconds. As I'd never experienced anything like it before, I thought I should get it checked out.

Anyway, it turns out I have an irregular heart beat and the doctor said after taking an ECG that I have Atrial Fibrillation.

I know I should have asked lots of questions before I left the surgery, but to be honest I'm in a bit of shock and now panicking.

The doctor prescribed me Bisoprolol Fumarate and told me to return to see him again in 3 days.

Does this course of action seem familiar to anyone and is there anyone out there that can set my mind at ease as I'm trying to avoid searching the internet for the condition as I know I'll make matters worse and heighten my anxiety.

Many thanks...

28 Replies

  • Welcome to the mad mad world of Atrial Fibrillation. You are amongst friends here so ask any questions and we will try to answer. First thing to understand is AF won't kill you although it might sometimes feel,like it. Second thing is that AF makes us five times more at risk of a stroke so for many people anticoagulation is a must. If you go to Atrial Fibrillation Association website and look up Chadsvasc there is a risk calculator which will advise what your risk is. Many GPs are not too well up on the best treatment and this sadly goes for many cardiologists. Bisoprolol merely slows your heart rate whilst in AF and for many people leaves them feeling wasted and like running through mud. It is , however, the fall back drug for most GPs. If you live in UK you do have the right to be treated by whoever you wish so the first stage would be a cardiologist and then an electrophysiologist who is a cardiologist with special interest in rhythm problems.There are a variety of drugs and other treatment options available so it is important that you get the right advise and treatment plan. Please don;t just accept what the doctors tell you!

    Also on AF-A website are a whole raft of fact sheets on just about every aspect of this mongrel condition. from drugs to ablation and all the variations of that procedure. Please read up as knowledge is power and in this game one needs to become our own expert on us and our condition as it is still very new science and few GPs and cardiologists are up to speed on the latest developments. Understand that it is only about twenty h-years since any meaningful treatment has been available and about eight since the link with stroke was noticed.

    Ask any questions and we will try to answer.


  • Hey Bob

    Many thanks for your reply. I think I just needed someone other than a medical practitioner to hook up with as like minded people tend to have a much better bedside manner and can empathise much better.

    I'm going to try and have a chilled and relaxed weekend before I go back for another appointment on Monday and then I'll start researching the condition in more depth as I know if I start looking now, I'll ignore anything except 'worse case' scenarios which won't be conducive to a relaxed state of mind.

    I assume on my next appointment the doctor will carry out the same tests as today, so not sure what he's hoping to establish after just a couple of days.

  • Ideally you should have an echo cardiogram (ultrasound test to check the physical condition of your heart) and ECG plus possibly thyroid blood test to see if there is any connection. After that it is trying different drugs but do please look up your stroke risk.


  • I've used the calculator you suggested Bob and the risk came out at 0%.

    That's one positive I guess.

  • Your next appointment will possibly be to establish if your AF is persistent (always there) or paroxysmal (comes and goes). Paroxysmal AF can last from several hours to several days, which is probably why your GP wants to leave it until mid week.

  • Well put.

  • Hello Bob, I found this site and it has been very helpful to me. I will go to the website to learn more. My son is only 17 and had to be shocked back into rhythm yesterday and now we have to see a electrical physicist on Tuesday . I'm nervous because I don't want him to have to go on medication at a young age.

  • See my comments on your other post. We are here to help.


  • Hi Arkwight

    I strongly endorse everything that Bob has given you in the way of information. Tell me what strength of Bisoprolol has the Doctor put you on? In my case they started me on 2.5mg. Note the effects that this drug has on you. Find out what your heart

    rate (BPM) is, and my advice would be to purchase a quality Blood Pressure Monitor.

    This will give you your blood pressure readings, heart rate and will display when you

    have an irregular heart rhythm or not. If you are a fit person you may already have a slow heart rate, be aware that the drug will lower your heart rate even further, so in due course you may need to reduce the strength of the drug by speaking to your GP.

    My strong advice would be to pay great attention to what Bob has said, and read as

    much as you can.

    We are here to help you, so keep asking questions.

    Best Wishes


  • Thanks Brian

    The dosage is 1.25mg. My heart rate was 100bpm.

    I'll look into a blood pressure monitor.

  • Thanks Arkwight,

    You are on the lowest dosage for this drug. Let's see how you get on with it.

    Best Wishes


  • Have you tried a low-fructose, low-Gi, higher natural-fat way of eating?

  • Hi Arkwight. Sorry you've found you are one of us, but don't panic as a good thing about AF is that it encourages a healthy way of living! Us AFers tend to watch the alcohol - no binge drinking - and avoid other things that might be triggers, like big meals and caffeine. Anything to keep the heart in good nick!

    It's scary at first but you soon get to know what your heart gets up to and how to keep in on the straight and narrow and then you're in control. There are various ways of dealing with AF if it becomes uppity and stroppy and Bisoprolol is but a starter.

    Great that you've scored 0% with Chadsvasc!

  • Are you in the UK.and if yes which country.

  • Yeah I'm in England Peter..

  • Well it's been approximately 12 hours since my diagnoses and I've just woken form a surprisingly good sleep. Thank you to everyone who has responded, your support and thoughts have been most welcome.

    Now I'm somewhat calmer and more relaxed, I thought it might (or might not) be useful if I gave you a bit of background information about myself. There may be no relevance whatsoever to what I'm about to write, so I apologise in advance.

    I'm a 51 year old male with a history of heart disease on both sides of my family. My father, grandfather and two grandmothers all died from congestive heart failure. Because of this I have been always tried to keep ahead of the game with regular cardiovascular check ups, my last being in January this year.

    Up until the age of 40 I had always been active playing rugby to a decent level and a few racket sports. Around the same age, my cholesterol was found to be high and I was put on statins which I still take today and my cholesterol has been around 2.5 for some considerable time. I also developed gout in my early 40's but again that is currently under control with allupuronol.

    Between the age of 40 and 50, I put on a considerable amount of weight due to having to stop playing active sports because of two knee operations and I also stopped smoking on my 40th birthday. By December 2014 my weight had ballooned to 19 st 9 lbs and my doctor told me my blood sugar levels were higher than he would have liked, though not considered diabetic.

    I decided it was time to lose some weight and in January with the support of a practice nurse, embarked on a calorie controlled diet and set about getting more active. Because of my weak knees I knew I couldn't do anything too strenuous but I took up walking and now walk an average of 3 miles a day. As of last week I have lost just under 5 st.

    I'm not a drinker, by which I mean my alcohol intake at most amounts to around 5 pints of real ale in any given month, sometimes less.

    Up until the dizzy spells starting the only other things I have noticed and these have both been since I started to lose weight, is four instances of 'white finger' where the tip of one finger on my left hand starts tingling and goes white before going numb for a few minutes.

    And the other thing is I have been noticeably colder than usual, particularly in my hands and feet at times when in comparison to my wife, I should have been relatively warm.

    When the dizzy spells began a couple of weeks ago I didn't pay too much attention and just thought my blood sugar levels may have been a little low. It wasn't until I actually blacked out for a few seconds on Thursday morning that I became a little more concerned.

    I considered at first that it may have been caused by my dieting as I had now been on 1400 calories a day for the best part of 6 months and it was my body's way of telling me to stop and sort out a weight maintenance diet and as I'd virtually reached my goal weight anyway, the time seemed right. It was only at the insistence of my darling wife that I attended the doctors yesterday. I was all for leaving it a couple of weeks to see if increased calories and an increase in my fluid intake (which I am notoriously bad at managing) would solve the problem. Once again, women know best :)

    That's about it really... Sorry the post was so lengthy and as I said previously, it may be of no relevance but I thought I'd share it anyway and it may already answer some questions that people may ask.

  • I hope you find the right Cardiologist!

    I was diagnosed in Tenerife,I blacked out on waking and was taken to hospital, I couldn't have asked for better treatment,I was in hospital 9 days,I had a very high temperature also,they thought it was the cause of the AF!

    I had an Electro Conversion it lasted 48 hrs! I was then told to see a Cardiologist as soon as I returned to UK,I am still awaiting an NHS appointment!!its 17th July!

    Fortunately we have private insurance,!

    (My AF was diagnosed in March! Fortunately we have a good GP !

    He kept my ECGs and meds on track!!

    I do wonder about our NHS !!!!

  • Thanks for that Arkwright.

    To help control your appetite, consider the kcalorie deficit you've made over the last six months has been met by your body-fat; animal fat. My point is that if the diet has served you well until recently, you'd do well to increase your natural-fat intake to normalise your energy intake.

    I don't want to make too many assumptions; presumably you cut your fat intake to reduce your kcalorie intake? After this period of time you may be suffering fat-soluble vitamin or mineral deficiency as a result.

    I would like to draw your attention to my post above, because if you don't drink much alcohol the other major culprits for uric acid are too much protein or too much fructose.

    Your symptoms of metabolic syndrome are also linked to too much fructose, combined with foods that cause insulin spikes.

    Of course your medication may have side-effects; you need to discuss this with your GP.

  • Hi... Thanks for your comments. That's quite a lot of information for me to digest but I think I get the general idea of what you're saying, I just need to explore it in a bit more detail.

    I guess I mentioned the weight loss as I wondered whether this has ever been proven to be a contributory cause of AF. I don't see why it should but it's the only significant thing that has changed in my life over the past six months.

  • You're less than three-quarters the weight you were; that'd definitely impact the strength of your medication.

    Please remember to sort the underlying metabolic problems that were accumulating though.

    All the best!

  • Do remember that AF isn't heart disease. It's a condition rather than an illness and just a problem with the heart's electrics. Lots of us have hearts that are otherwise in good nick. Some of us do have cardiac problems as well. It's not a one-size-fits-all thing. Some people have AF occasionally and it's very debilitating, others don't find it much of a problem when it occurs. Lots of people have it and don't know because its impact isn't very evident. Some people have it all the time and others get regular attacks. We all share the worries and understand how scary and upsetting diagnosis of AF seems at first.

  • Hi Rellin

    Thanks for your comments. You've certainly put things into some sort of perspective for me.

    My initial worries have subsided somewhat and I now seem to be thinking about the impact it may have on my life, but I guess I won't know that at this stage.

    This morning I suddenly started to panic about whether AF will affect the great love of my life which is motorcycling. I'm sure there are more important things to worry about with this condition but that's where my head is at the moment. How stupid is that?

  • As I said, AF can impact on your life by making you live healthily! You may find yourself unwilling to risk things that encourage AF. No bad thing. Just have the appropriate tests, get a proper diagnosis from an electrophysiologist and see how you go.

    Ablation is the option your doctor mentioned. Burning away bits of heart sounds worse than it is. It's an alternative to taking medication all the time and can work really well. Some of us are enthusiasts and some (mostly those who haven't had an ablation and a few doctors and consultants) regard it as to be considered only if other treatments don't work well enough.

    Good luck!

  • Hi arkwight,

    Have had afib for 15 years. Here's the basics. If you go into it, seek medical treatment immediately. The longer you're in AFIB, the more difficult it is to reset your rythm. There's various classes of anti arrythmics out there depending upon what you need. There's advantages and disadvantages to each. The first line of treatment now is ablation according to my heart doc. But the success rate isn't as good as one would think. About stroke. Unless you are either going in and out of afib, or are constantly in it, anti coagulants aren't necessary. If you've been in afib longer than 48 hours, I believe heart docs will put you on anti cagulants (blood thinners), (rat poison) for 30 days prior to drugs, cardioversion, or ablation to prevent a clot that may have formed from going to your brain. Afib is the leading cause of stroke, because a lot of folks don't realize the have it. Blood pools in the top 2 atrial chambers when in afib. If they start working again and you haven't been put on blood thinner, there's a real good chance of a clot zipping up to your brain. Afib can be caused by all kinds of things. I am in the minority that has "lone afib), meaning that my afib is only caused by electrical misfiring and nothing else. Therefore it must be diet, which is why I'm on magnesium now for 2 years running and so far so good. Finally, there appears to be a link between genetics and AFIB. Hope this helps. Make sure your doc does a cardiolite uptake stress test, echo, and a 24 hour holter test. Something nobody has mentioned but there's another evaluation tool out there called an EBT, electron beam tomography. Like a CAT scan but a bit more expensive, though the price may have come down since I had one 10 years ago. It maps the calcium in your arteries in the heart region. A high calcium finding means blockage. Way less intrusive and way less expensive than an angiogram. The procedure is just like a CT, but without the radiation issues. Takes all of 10 minutes with results in about 25 minutes. They tell you the results right after the findings. For me it was a piece of mind knowing I had no blockage as my calcium score was about as low as it could be. Hope this gets you up to speed a bit faster. MrBill. :)

  • Ps we didn't have much of a holiday!

    Hope you get sorted out!

  • I complained about "my funny heart"for several years and nothing was done until I had a mini stroke just after experiencing slight dizzy spells. I went to the doctors and was admitted to hospital coming out 5 days later with a pacemaker. That stopped the dizzy spells. Like you i was athletic. I think if you are prone to AF it will manifest one day. I walk and swim regularly and feel as good as i ever did. Af is not a killer so don't worry. Barry ps im 69

  • Hi Barry

    Good to hear you're doing well and your AF appears not to be inhibiting your life too much.

    I'm interested in your comments about the pacemaker as I mentioned that to my doctor yesterday asking if that was one of the possible treatments and he said that it wasn't and that the only possible surgical procedure had something to do with burning some part of the heart that was responsible for the electrical fault. It was at that point I think I stopped listening because panic had set in.

    I really need to get my head in gear before I go back on Monday.

  • GPs are not expert in heart problems. If they were I would not have had my mini stroke as I had been complaining for a long time. Then suddenly they are all interested. You need advice at a higher level as I believe ablation is not the first option. At 69 they told me I was too young!) AF, as Bob puts it, is a rouge condition and every case is so very different so replys on here are to be treated as suggestions only as you build up your own portfolio. I am surprised that anticoagulation has not been put in the frame. I could have been spared my mini stroke. Fast heart rate and AF can cause blood to remain in the heart which can clot as in my case travelled to the brain. Please take note that your AF might be much different to mine and even with your chads score that so good still investigate anticoagulation. Hopefully Bob will read this and put me right if I am off track.

    Keep well and good luck


    PS 7,000,000+ people in Britain have some sort of heart condition so we are not alone.

You may also like...