AF Association
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Excersize and anxiety ?

Since being diagnosed with AF at 45 , I have been suffering from terrible anxiety which is making my heart beat faster and I'm finding it hard to breath. I. Trying to relax but I can't. I used to be active but I've become so scared to excersize I case I have another attack.

Do I have to change my life and stay house bound and not even dare have. Glass of wine? I'm so afraid of being on my own in case an attack happens. I really want to visit family 6 hours away but in the back of my mind I cant in case something happens.

Please help anyone :(

20 Replies

In your case it's anxiety not AF that would be the most important thing you need to treat.

See your GP about your anxiety and see what he can suggets because its hard for you to see anything clearly while that is clouding your thoughts.

Most people can live completely fruitful lives with AF. In fact many months ago the last time I went to hospital with AF the paramedic was an AF sufferer himself!

You are young and I suspect fairly fit if exercise tolerance is bothering you so thats a huge plus on your side.

You have not said if you are on any meds. If you have been diagnosed on AF you should be on an anticoagulant, a beta blocker and also probably an anti-arrhythmic - what are you taking?

You should post here a lot, read plenty of information and start to understand your condition is not a life sentence its simply something that we have to manage and there are many ways to do that successfully.

You mentioned a fear of exercising.

This link will take you to a list of world famous athletes with AF including triathletes and cyclists - even an astronaut!


Thank u so much for your reply x

I feel so alone with AF and this site has helped me to try and come to terms with AF.

I've been given aspirin and beta blockers daily , although to be honest I am taking the aspirin but scared to take beta blocker as my heart rate is pretty low anyway until I get palpatations and AF attack of 200bpm . So I'm reluctant to take them :/


Elly you have to speak to your GP about your concerns.

Not taking your meds and then complaining about AF just makes no sense - its a never ending cycle and you don't win from that.

Either you trust your doctor and take your meds or you talk to him about it.

you have to tale some action if you want results.


I was taking 2 Coreg 3.125 mg Coreg beta blockers a day but felt light headed and tingly after morning dose. My bl pr tends to run low normally. Doctor suggested I cut back to just evening dose. That has been very tolerable.



I was diagnosed at 48 also - only had one attack and that was alcohol triggered I think. I manage mine so far through beta blockers - it will lower your heart rate but you need to adjust the dosage so that you get it right. If you are taking bisophorol that can also make you tired on high dosages.

Don't be afraid to exercise - by yourself a heart monitor and chest strap and when you start take it easy and then make sure your heart stays nicely in the right zones. Keep it light and don't over exercise - you will get your confidence back.

Also by an alivecor - this is a hand held ECD device with an iPhone or iPad - allows you to check your heart beat is normal and in rhythm- very reassuring.

If your AF settles does for a long period you can come off mens and try a pill in the pocket approach - ie you take the pills only when you have an attack.

I too still have a lot of anxiety about AF and my heart beat in general - you need to try and take your mind off it and make sure you get decent sleep - over worrying could bring it back.


Dave 1961, you make so much common sense, as always!

Elly, worrying about your condition will only make matters worse. Anxiety and heart arrythmia go hand in hand. Voice your fears to your GP, I am sure he will set you straight.

Exercise and AF - I used to find that exercise helped to level out my heart rate. If I awoke in the early hours with a racing, irregular heartbeat, I would get up and go into the diningn room and run around the long table a few times. It usually helped. Irres-pective, I wasn't prepared to appear in A&E at that time of the day, inconveniencing other people, knowing that it would like as not have settled by the time I got there anyway. Proof of the pudding, I guess, is that, eight years after diagnosis, I am still here and I have learned to live with it. i even survived two attacks, one in Mumbai and the other in Palm Springs, both very far away from my Canterbury home and all that is familiar. I did it by working on regulating my breathing, deep breath in, longer breath out. Both attacks, I am sure, were anxiety provoked, particularly indicated by the trembling that consumed my body after the electrical surges in my chest calmed down a bit. I have learned, over the years, that anxiety alone can convince the sufferer that they are having a major heart incident. It has been responsible for countless numbers being admitted to A&E with a suspected heart problem only to be told that they had suffered a panic attack. I sympathise. I have been there.

Perhaps you could try a heart monitor for a week or so to find out exactly what is happening and be treated accordingly and then maybe you wouldn't feel quite so anxious. One thing for certain - you are not alone!!

Good luck and keep us posted.

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Hi Elly,

Don't let this take over your life because it can so easily, I was referred for CBT because of AF anxiety and some other issues , I am coping now but remember you are not alone although sometimes it really feels like it, until I found this website I in my head was the only woman in the world with this dodgy thing in my heart, this site has been a godsend .

Good luck and try not to worry,

Wendi x


Hi I too was very fit and had low resting heart rate . I too also stopped living because I was so scared of AF attack and stroke , then on the 1st jan I decided to just get on with it as at 50 I had a long time to be miserable ! Im now back doing spin and the Meds are doing their job and to be honest I feel better than when I sat about worrying and I know that my family are better for my decision.


Hi there , I too was only diagnosed in December , I stopped my exercising because I too was scared to be out there alone , the meds bisoprolol and flecainide made me feel terrible my heart rate was 38 at one point , I read a lot about af I also halved my bisoprolol and it took a good three months before the meds bedded in and I felt a bit better ,I used to go into af for 20 hrs plus every other morning , after seeing my cardiologist and electrophysiologist who reassured me and told me I could go jogging instead of running I took that and now go jogging alone it was scary to begin with but after a few weeks I was just glad to be out exercising again back in my normal routine ,I've been on the list for a pvi ablation since march , it does seem like the end of everything normal to begin with , I've changed my diet a little no tea or coffee just hot water , more fruit and more veg , no alcohol never drank much anyway but do still crave the odd bottle of bud now and again , anyway hope you get back to normal soon cheers Paul


Have you seen an EP (Electrophysiologist) / Heart Rhythm Specialist? If not, I strongly suggest you get a referral. Maybe you're not on the right drugs or maybe you could have an ablation?

At the Patients Day a couple of years back, an EP said to me that there are two basic type of AF, those where exercise causes a problem, and those where eating/resting/lying down brings on the symptoms. But if you get some good treatment from a specialist maybe you can just go back to normal, fingers crossed. I did and most of my AF life has just been fairly normal. I have the latter form of AF.

PS. I don't suffer from anxiety as such, but if your ticker ain't ticking as it should, then unless you're used to it, then you have to be pretty brain dead not to become concerned. That is totally normal. My doctor gave me some anti-anxiety pills to take during any bad attack. Only had two and the pills worked both times proving a huge link between anxiety/concern and my ticker electrics.



Ellyhay please discuss anticoagulant with your GP aspirin is not an anticoagulant it is an antiplatelet and not recommended for AF. Please insist a referral to an Electro Physiologist as soon as possible. A lot of GPs are not up to date with modern recommendations so please do read up and inform yourself from the AFA site, link on this site. We can help you to prepare for seeing your GO and cardiologist etc by suggesting questions to ask - there is a list on the AFA site by the way.

I have travelled all over the world with AF, sometimes in AF and I was fine, once I knew how to cope with it and when it was safe and not safe - which you have still yet to learn. Yes it may happen anytime, if you are driving 6 hours you need to adapt so whereas I used to do it in one go, after AF I had to do it in smaller bites, staying overnight somwhere as I found I was more likely to have an episode if I got too tired.

The others have all given you very good advice, treat the anxiety - but my advice is not through your GP, unless you really trust him/her as being female, if you have a male doctor especially, you run the risk of being classed as 'anxious woman with palpitations' label and not being referred so assertive, not anxious in front of the GP!

Anxiety goes with the territory with AF so it is not all in your mind and don't let anyone tell you different but counselling will not help take it away, but may help you cope with it because there IS a physical perceived threat and the only way that will ease is by knowledge which is power and appropriate treatment for which you need to see an EP.

It is not what happens to you but how you handle what happens to you which is important with AF.

We are all here to support and help so do keep posting.


Hi there Elly, Your first reply from Dave is full of advice, don't just sit there and worry, that brings on the anxiety and makes things worse, go and see your GP, he/she will be able to give you something that will not interfere with your meds but relax you and calm you down, a lot of these kinds of meds are not habit forming and are only used for short periods. I understand exactly where you are coming from. I am 65 now, (just!) and I started with AF last June, in fact one year ago yesterday!! I wondered what on earth it was, couldn't slow my heart down so after a couple of nights in A and E I now have permanent AF. I had a cardioversion last October which worked for 7 months but went back onto AF last month. I am now waiting for my second one, hopefully that will work for a bit longer. The best exercise is walking, try some short walks on the flat, I know that if you walk uphill the bisoprolol with kick in and try to slow you down so you get breathless but even walking on the flat will get your fitness levels back, you will also feel better. Keep a little diary, it's amazing how many steps you can do in a day. Try a bit of swimming or if you can't swim a bit of water aerobics. I am reading a book at the moment on 'Mindfulness', a relaxation technique, have a look at that on the internet, they recommend breathing exercises to help relax you. You are not alone and there are plenty of things you can do to help yourself.

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I have been cardioconverted twice now and I felt depressed much like yourself for a long time afterwards each time. Scared to do anything that may trigger the AF again.

I am generally a very anxious person. Anxiety was certainly my biggest problem, itself a trigger to the AF. I have found that regularly listening to recordings that improve your self being (if that's what it's called) have helped me a lot.

I travel to London working and during the commute I listen to Paul Mckenna's 'trances'. There's a lot available for free download on the internet. I would certainly recommend giving them a go and regularly listen to them. They work for me.

I also help my sleep sometimes by listening to Sleep Hypnosis (from Positive Life Therapy - Ewan Innes - not free mind). This also works well for me and I seem to wake up more refreshed.

There are other things too that help me. I have learnt how to sort of 'bear down' when I feel AF coming on that usually stops it.

All these things add confidence so you feel you're back in control again, and a positive outlook is so important.



Following on from everyone's excellent replies. ....

I too was in the same place as you. ..its like a copy from my diary... From being active and independent to bring a couch potato and hermit. You do need to grasp this me mentally as well as physically. Im on meds but it's trial and error and now waiting for ablation. I have had 3 days in london walking miles and going to a concert. Up early the next day. I was tired sometimes but this did me so good to live life. I may well end up not doing much soon but when I can I will. And so should you. Dont let it win. I still have some alcohol. . Champagne cocktails in the Shard were bliss. I know a large wine can increase heart beat and strong coffee. Apart from that. ... literally anything could potentially set it off...even just sitting down being good.

So I choose to live a life. Im off to the gym to tone these legs back up now.... have a good weekend.... :)

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Elly I can't add too much to the above but would say that Koll and CDreamer have covered my advice and Dave makes some sense with regard to anxiety. Of course AF makes us anxious and only knowledge can really change that as fear is really only about the unknown. Read all you can from the fact sheets available from AF Association website and I am sure that you will start to understand that AF may be in your life but it is not all of your life.

Forget the aspirin as this is about as useful as a chocolate fireguard and has been removed from appropriate drugs where AF is concerned. See an EP and get you life back. In the meantime look into CBT, hypnotherapy or any other method to stop you being so anxious. Good luck and remember we are all here to help you.


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Thank you this helps so much and o really appreciate yours and everyone else's advice x


Hello ellyhay,

One of the the Beta Blockers I take is Bedranol,this looks after my heart

rhythm and as I am a very anxios person this also is prescribed for Anxiety,

It really works and helps me a lot.

As for drink,medical people have told me,No more than two drinks,but it

does not bother me whether I have or not,I have Soda and lime or delicious non alcoholic Cocktails,and enjoy myself just the same,and feel much better for it.

Hope this helps you and that you start to feel better,everything in moderation,exercising too!!!



I get AF often with the Lupus and also, sometimes after I take my Coumadin. It's a scary feeling, but if your doctor approves of your exercise, you should not stop being active. Exercise is good for your mind and for your body. Both of my doctors continue to tell me not to stop playing tennis. I belong to a club, but not all of the ladies are nice, and they have formed their own little "group." We have a pro shop that uses a computer system, and so far, I've gotten games. I hate to use my health as a reason to get games - but I know that the tennis is good for me, as is the pool, and I feel the AF more when I am just watching tv. Even though it's very hot here in Florida, I don't want to stop playing tennis. I take Alprazalom at night to sleep thru my anxiety. It helps. Have you tried it? I recommend you start getting active - with your doctor's permission only!!!!!!!! And ask about an anti-anxiety med. I only take it at night. That's when my mind is most active. At least it helps me sleep for about 6 hours.


Ellyhay, I am 46 and have had AF for about two years now. Like you the cardiologist prescribed beta blockers and aspirin for me. I have stopped taking the aspirin after seeing an EP and I am now on Flecainide as the beta blockers didn't completely control the AF. I understand completely how you feel. I like hillwalking and am always worried when we are in the middle of nowhere that I will have an attack, particularly when I am walking up hill and my heart is pounding, but it is just doing what any normal heart is meant to do - beating fast to get the oxygen to my lungs. Like many people on this site I have reduced my alcohol intake and usually just have one glass of wine at a time. I have started drinking low alcohol cider which is only 1% and so gives me the feeling that I am having a drink, but the peace of mind that it is not going to start my heart racing. I think that the best thing that you can do is get out and keep yourself occupied. Being with other people always helps take my mind off of my condition and when I am at work I don't have time to think about it. Life doesn't end because we have AF, you just have to 'tweak' things a little bit. Take care.


All the advice given is spot on. I suffered for 10 years relying on advice from my G.P. who in retrospect knew very little about the condition. I too thought my end had come ! All this changed the day I went to see an E.P. ( I paid for an initial consultation and ultimately he took me on to his national health list.). Immediately I felt in safe hands and I left with a plan of action. I too had a low heart rate so I was put on a low dose of beta blockers a a rhythm control drug. This did the trick but gave me visual problems so I have had an ablation and am gradually coming off the drugs. Although this is a treatment not a complete cure I feel secure in the knowledge that someone will keep trying to make things better for me. One way or another my A.F. has been totally controlled for 2 and a half years so far. A very far cry from the days when it was so bad I felt like I was on my last legs. My advice then is to fast track in whatever way you can, to an E.P. Good luck.x

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